Music to the ears: East Fairmont pitcher goes the distance, Bees prolong sectional with 5-4 win against Polar Bears

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Owen Music had to find an extra gear late in his outing Monday at Fairmont Senior.

The East Fairmont pitcher had done more than enough to put the Bees in position to win and prolong play in Class AA Region I, Section 1, yet the Polar Bears had already cut a two-run deficit in half and had the tying run on base in the home half of the seventh inning.

With Music’s pitch count into triple digits, the right-handed sophomore knew his time on the mound was limited, and making matters more difficult was that Dylan Ours, who accounted for a two-run single earlier in the game, was in the batter’s box.

But Music maintained his composure and induced a game-ending fly ball to right field for the final out to finish off a 5-4 Bees’ victory at Mary Lou Retton Park that allows the two teams to clash again Tuesday in a winner-take-all sectional title game.

“I went into the game just trying to throw strikes, be efficient and trust my defense,” Music said. “We all work hard and they have my back. I trust them and try to work as efficiently as I can. You can’t let the nerves get to you. You have to trust yourself and the people you’ve been working with all year.”

It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout for Music, who allowed a leadoff double to Cam Peschl on the first batter he faced, and later surrounded Ours’ two-run single with two outs that allowed Fairmont Senior (20-6) to grab an early lead.

“Those two runs in the first inning aren’t what you want, but when you see they’re hitting the ball right off the bat, you know it’s going to be tough and you have to keep digging and fighting,” Music said.

By the time Music came back out on the mound for the second inning, his team had pulled even and restored its confidence. EFHS plated two runs in the top of the second after loading the bases on consecutive singles and a base-on-balls, and a pivotal throwing error with two outs allowed Ian Graffius and Tanner Mayfield to cross the plate with the visitors’ first two runs.

The 2-2 tie stood through the third inning, before East Fairmont (19-9) gained its first lead.

Case Linn drew a one-out walk that helped lead to a go-ahead, run-scoring single with two outs from No. 9 hitter Tristan Boone. It was part of a strong performance for Boone, a left fielder who tracked down several well-struck fly balls and put forth a solid defensive showing.

“Our guys responded and were resilient. They kept plugging away and grinding and he was throwing strikes,” Bees’ coach Joe Price said. “The defense was making plays. Tristan Boone made a couple great catches in left and Ian Graffius made some nice plays. Overall, our guys did pretty well today.”

Ours reached on an error to start the home half of the fourth, but after stealing second base, he got aggressive and was thrown out trying to advance to third when the throw to second got away.

“Two plays and you could see the air come completely out of us,” Polar Bears’ head coach Dave Ricer said. “A couple baserunning errors.”

FSHS starting pitcher Hayden Jones’ outing ended with a one-out walk to Nate Whiteman in the fifth, and relief pitcher Brayden Gorby walked Danny Raddish immediately upon entering, setting up another quality scoring chance for the Bees. However, Gorby hung tough and induced consecutive outs on fly balls to keep his team within one run.

Music worked around a leadoff walk to Gorby in the home half of the fifth by retiring each of the next three batters.

EFHS then scored a pair of critical insurance runs in the sixth which came with the bases loaded and two outs as Nate Whiteman singled to drive in one, with a throwing error on the play allowing the Bees to score a second run for a 5-2 lead.

Jones’ leadoff double in the home half of the sixth led to him scoring on Brock Martin’s sacrifice fly to make it a two-run game.

When Samuel Viani doubled with one out in the seventh and Logan Canfield followed with a single, it allowed the Polar Bears to send the winning run to the plate.

But Music got Jones to hit a fly ball to left that brought in Viani but resulted in the second out, and he polished off the complete game by retiring Ours to extend his team’s season at least one more game.

“Slow things down, regain your composure and let the defense work,” Price said of his message to Music. “Throw to contact and let them make plays behind you. That’s what we’ve preached all year long and that’s what we want him to do. Owen might be a sophomore on paper, but baseball wise, he’s far surpassed that.”

FSHS had a 7-5 advantage in hits that included four doubles.

All 12 hits in the contest came from 12 different players.

“We hit a lot of fly balls,” Ricer said. “What are you going to do with those? I don’t know if we didn’t take them serious. Music pitched a good game and I’m not going to take anything away from him, but we helped the situation along.”

Jones took the loss after allowing three runs over 4 1/3 innings. He and Gorby each issued three walks, while Jones had one strikeout and Gorby recorded two.

Music struck out three and walked three over his strong 105-pitch performance. It was his second start this season against the Bees’ crosstown rival.

“The first start I was kind of pitching around them and was too worried about getting strikeouts and trying to keep them from hitting the ball,” Music said. “Today I was going straight at them and trusted the guys behind me to have my back.”

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