In a matchup highlighting the importance of experience, Fairmont Senior earned their bid to the Class AAA State Championship with a 10-0 victory over Greenbrier East, scoring eight runs in the top of the sixth inning to run away with the game.
Polar Bears’ head coach Steve Naternicola has been with his team for 22 years, bringing Fairmont Senior to the State Championships eight out of the last nine years. They are now one win away from their first baseball state championship.
Fairmont Senior got the scoring started early with good team play. Andrew Marra led off for the Polar Bears, walking, and eventually advancing to third with a bunt from fellow senior Allen Rickards. Trevor Malnick then came up to bat hitting a deep sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Marra. Spartan pitcher Ryan Windon got out of the inning with no further damage.
With Senior Jamie Allard on the mound for Coach Naternicola, the Polar Bears’ defense didn’t allow any runs in the game. Greenbrier East did have its chances, however. The Spartans totaled 5 base hits, but stranded runners and found tough luck with 3 double plays from the Fairmont Senior infield.
Fairmont Senior again got on the board in the sixth, capitalizing on a collapse of Greenbrier’s pitching and defense. The Polar Bears scored eight runs on eight hits in the inning. After 5 innings and 6 earned runs, Spartans Head Coach Eric Morgan pulled Windon for Junior Gabe Gowdy, who was then replaced by Clay Ayers after giving up three more runs. The Polar Bears added one more run in the 7th.
“We struggled a little bit early,” said Naternicola, “but our defense won this game for us.” When asked about tomorrow’s competition, Naternicola responded, “We’re not worried about them. As long as we get our game in we’ll be fine.”
Coach Naternicola and the Polar Bears will go on to face the winner of this afternoon’s early game between Jefferson and Nitro. The Class AAA Championship game is slated for approximately 2 p.m. on Saturday from Appalachian Power Park