Fairfield’s varsity baseball squad took to the field Monday night against Class 4A Indianola after first celebrating the nine Trojan seniors.
“It was eventful,” said recent grad Cooper Drish.
“It was fun until I got to pitch, but I like to pitch because I don’t always get to do it.”
Humble homecoming king Caden Jones added, “It was definitely special to be out here with so many seniors and to get us all together at home again.”
Fairfield took a 10-0 lead after just one inning and held on for an 18-8 final that improved the Trojans to 21-4 overall.
“I thought we were doing a good job of being aggressive and hitting our pitch,” added head coach Josh Allison. “We didn’t expand the zone and we took advantage of the pitchers’ mistakes. I liked that we were focused in the first inning, that was good to see.”
“We just wanted to go out with a bang,” said senior Cole Engle. “Football, we didn’t get to go out with a win and we just wanted to do that for baseball.”
Kosta Papazoglou led off the game with a walk before taking second base on a passed ball and then scoring on a one-out RBI double by Austin Simpson that made it 1-0.
Tristin Waugh then walked and moved to second on a hard grounder by Jackson Weaton that moved Simpson to third before he scored on a bad throw to first, allowing Waugh to advance to third and leaving Jackson safe at first. 2-0 FHS.
Caden Jones followed with a RBI sacrifice fly out to center that scored Waugh and saw Weaton slide under a tight throw to third. 3-0 Fairfield.
Engle was next with a gaping RBI double that scored Weaton with two outs, making it 4-0.
Drew Martin took advantage of the Trojans’ next opportunity, hitting a three-run shot that scored Engle and Drish and sent the dugout into a frenzy.
“Other teams are going to make little errors and we’re going to do what we do,” said the junior Martin.
“I think it was a full-count and coach told me to simple down. All I did was see that he threw one right down the middle for me and I just gave it all I got.”
After going through the lineup and leading 7-0 with two outs, K-Pap came to the batter’s box again and added a warning-track double to his 0-0 day that included drawing the game’s opening walk.
Simpson walked to load the bases and then Waugh singled and scored pinch-running freshman Connor Lyons who courtesy ran for Papazoglou and making it 8-0.
Starting pitcher Carter Ferrel had to rewarm up as the Trojans tacked on two more runs to make it 10-0 when Weaton singled and scored pinch-runner Josh Brewington and Simpson.
After Fairfield surrendered a run in the top of the second to make it 10-1, Coach Allison and assistant Coach Jeff Eeling take the players aside and tell them to “play the game right, don’t steal bases and just play hard.”
“We’ve talked a lot about staying together as a team and they started that during game two against Davis County and continued that tonight.”
The inning ended on a defensive gem that featured a hustling Austin Simpson cutting off a throw home midway between the mound and the plate before heading off the runner headed for third.
“When they come to practice they are ready to work and that’s a attribute to them and their families for raising them right,” added Allison.
After no score from either team in the third, Indianola made it 10-3 when they tallied two runs in the fourth.
In the home-half of the fourth, Papazoglou entended his arms and hit a RBI double down the line that scored Martin who went from first to third again on a bad throw from the pitcher that made it 11-3.
After Kosta stole second, he advanced to third on a sac fly by Brad Smithburg that gave the Indians two outs with Simpson returning to the plate for the second-go-round.
“It was a 2-1 count and I knew he had to come to me,” said the senior who slimmed down after ballooning to over 300 pounds as an injured sophomore. “He hadn’t thrown a curve ball or a change up for a strike at any point in my at-bat, so I’m dead-red on fastball and I turned on it. It felt pretty nice off of the bat and I knew right away. It might have been one of my further home runs.”
The long-ball gave the Trojans more than just a 13-3 advantage, it gave Simpson the school record for home runs in a season with 12, adding to the 10 he hit last year.
“I feel like I have a voice people listen to so, I’ve got to be better, because I’m going to college in a month,” reflected Simpson on his attempts later in the game to keep the team even-keeled during an Indian rally. “I have to be mature.”
During the top of the fifth, Indianola netted four runs, including a three-run homer although cat-like Cole Engle made multiple diving catches to thwart any real chance of comeback for the visiting team.
“I saw them well off of the bat and they were pretty hard hits with a lot of backspin on them,” explained Engle.
“The one over my shoulder was the hardest, because I saw it and then I picked up the backspin at the last second and I jumped and grabbed it.“
With a 13-8 lead heading into the home half of the sixth, FHS junior Carter Ferrel scored after drawing a walk, as did Papazoglou who finished the day 2-3 with a double, RBI, stolen base and two walks drawn.
Another patient at-bat from Simpson gave him a 3-3 stat line with a double, a homer, four runs scored and two walks drawn and set up the game-ending home run by Trojan student-athlete Tristin Waugh.
“It feels good,” said Simpson about his record after the game, “but I hope some little one is watching me and wants to break it because that is just going to make the tradition and culture even better around Fairfield.”
With Waugh in the box and two runners on, Tristin got uber-focused on the possibility-at-hand.
“In the middle of the at-bat I actually looked up at the scoreboard and I did some math and thought this would be awesome to end my senior night on a walkoff,” admitted Waugh.
“Honestly, when hitters like Austin and I, and even Kosta, are at the plate in that situation we think about how nice it would be to hit a ding-dong. People fantasize that moment all the time, it’s just awesome when it actually happens and everyone around the park is cheering. It’s just fun. It was awesome.”
What did the Indians give Waugh?
“I had two balls and a strike on me and he was mostly just feeding me change ups outside, trying to get me to go the other way and he missed his spot. I actually hit it lower on the sweet spot and at first I didn’t think it was going to go over, but it just kept carrying. When I saw it go over the fence, I thought ‘Wow, I did it!’”
Does Waugh feel a little left out in the home run party that has Fairfield No. 1 in the state with 31?
“I’m kind of like not there, but then I’m recognized. There’s a lot of times where Austin is in front of me and he gets intentionally walked and it’s like they’d rather have me hit which was better for me because I got to hit a home run and shove it in their face. It’s happened multiple times this year and it happened last year too. I take it personally because I think I should be a respected hitter, but Austin is a very good hitter.”
The shot for Fairfield gave the Trojans a 10-run mercy-shortened 18-8 victory in sixth innings and officially gave Ferrel the win.
“This night is really important for a lot of us seniors,” shared Weaton. “We’ve been playing sports all year and we’re a pretty athletic class so it’s just nice to come out here and get an 18-8 win over a Class 4A team.”
The summer isn’t over with Fairfield scheduled to travel to Oskaloosa tonight and Wilton on Thursday before hosting Solon Tuesday July 16.