Trojan hitters headed to the playoffs
Host Oak Ridge clinched a playoff berth despite falling to visiting Pleasant Grove 7-6 in Tuesday’s tightly contested Delta River League varsity baseball game.
In the top of the seventh inning the score was tied 6-6, but the Eagles sent the eventual winning run home on a pair of errors by the Trojan defense.
“We got their ‘A’ game today but still competed great. Now we just have to rest up and get ready for the postseason.” Oak Ridge coach Todd Melton said.
Thanks to a two-hit gem from starting pitcher Austin Ales in the teams’ first match-up, followed by a 74 pitch no-hitter from the arm of starting pitcher Chris Muse-Fisher on Monday (they won that game 3-0), the Trojans claimed the season series from the Eagles to seal a Division I playoff appearance in just their first year of Delta River League play.
“This was a great opportunity to play in Division I and we definitely held our own.” Melton said.
Any disappointment left over from dropping the final home game was quickly erased amidst the Senior Day festivities.
Outfielders Cole Hansen and Luke Eicher, catcher Drew Reischi and pitchers Ales and Muse-Fisher all were greeted by family at home plate to generous applause from the Oak Ridge fans.
Muse-Fisher’s no-hitter the day before was still the talk of the town preceding Tuesday’s game.
“All my pitches were working really well for me and my placement was good but I only had seven strikeouts so my defense really helped me.” Muse-Fisher said.
Ales took the mound for the final game, looking to emulate his first outing against Pleasant Grove where he dominated the opposing offense. In that game, the first hit allowed was recorded with one out in the seventh inning, however on Tuesday, the Eagle bats were ready.
Ales yielded a hard single on the second pitch of the game to Pleasant Grove outfielder Malik Hill. After walking another batter, Ales managed to get out of the first untouched but ran into major trouble in the second, giving up five singles en route to a four-run inning for the Eagles. Ales went 4.2 innings before he was relieved by Mitch McLean.
First baseman Alex Fitchett jump-started the Trojan offense in the bottom of the second on a tape-measure home run that landed atop of a pine tree just left of the 390-foot sign in left center.
After another three runs courtesy of Eagle errors along with Hansen’s RBI double and a RBI single from second basemen Mason Watkins, Oak Ridge finally took the lead in the fifth off a Fitchett base hit into left field that scored Ales from second.
Pleasant Grove struck back, sending three more runs across the plate to push its lead to one heading into the final frame. Third baseman/pitcher Kyle Castro held down the fort for the Eagles, closing out the Trojans in the seventh with a mix of hard fastballs and sharp breaking pitches.
Fitchett finished his day 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a home run. Hansen reached base on all four plate appearances, with a double, two walks and one hit-by-pitch, while Watkins had a 2-for-3 day with an RBI and a sacrifice bunt.
In its first year in Division I play, Oak Ridge upheld its reputation as a strong varsity baseball program.
“We are good. We finished strong. We have as good of a chance as any come postseason.” Melton said.