FAIRMONT — After Fairmont and St. Pauls went back and forth over the first 3 1/2 innings Friday, a three-run inning created some separation for the Golden Tornadoes.
When both pitching staffs settled in the rest of the way, that separation was enough to earn the Golden Tornadoes a 7-4 win over the Bulldogs, splitting two games in Southeastern Athletic Conference play between the teams this week.
With Fairmont (5-2, 1-1 Southeastern) leading 4-3, Josiah Williams led off the bottom of the fourth with a double. Parker Chavis walked, then both runners advanced when Nate Jones reached on a fielder’s choice with no out recorded to load the bases.
Williams scored on a wild pitch during Noah Parker’s at bat. Parker then singled to plate Chavis and Jones to take a 7-3 lead.
“That was really the difference in the ballgame — you could say that one at bat,” Fairmont coach Kelly Chavis said. “Infielders coming in, we’re trying to turn something over; we’re looking for a pitch we can really hammer. … That was a great at-bat by Noah; anytime he steps in the box I know he’s going to put the ball in play.”
“We had been going back and forth scoring one run each inning,” Parker said. “We had second and third with no outs, and in practice we practice PGBs, power ground balls, and I just tried to hit to the pull side so it would score to two runners when they were in, and I hit it so hard they didn’t field it.”
Jones, who had allowed runs in each of the first three innings and stranded two baserunners in the fourth before the Golden Tornadoes gave him some breathing room, he faced the minimum over the next two innings before he was relieved after a leadoff double in the seventh, which eventually came around to score. Jones allowed two earned runs on two hits with five walks and four strikeouts in six-plus innings; Mynkoda Smith got the last three outs, including two strikeouts.
“(Jones) really relied on his breaking ball tonight, and he stayed in the zone with it,” Kelly Chavis said. “His breaking ball was phenomenal.”
Both teams scored a first-inning run; St. Pauls’ run came on a Will Brooks sacrifice fly and Farimont’s came when Kenley Callahan came home as the result of a Bulldogs error. St. Pauls (2-4, 1-1 Southeastern) took a 2-1 lead in the second on a Jalen Jacobs sacrifice fly; Fairmont used a pair of squeeze play bunts to score two runs in the bottom half, with Mynkoda Smith and Williams coming home, to take a 3-2 lead.
The teams again exchanged single runs in the third; St. Pauls tied the game at 3-3 when Cameron Revels scored on a wild pitch and Fairmont answered with an R.J. Deese run on an error to lead 4-3.
“They were big (errors), but they were big because the seniors are making them,” St. Pauls coach Matthew Hunt said. “We’re playing four sophomores and a freshman, and our seniors are making errors. That’s been the story all year, my seniors are not toting the load like they’re supposed to.”
Williams had two doubles for Fairmont and scored twice. Three other Golden Tornadoes had a hit and five others scored once.
Jayden Parker and Zious Dorley had hits for St. Pauls and Cameron Revels scored two runs. T.J. Parker took the loss for St. Pauls, allowing four earned runs on five hits with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
St. Pauls won Tuesday’s game 9-8 after both sides took, then lost, a big lead; Fairmont scored five runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game before St. Pauls scored a walk-off run in the bottom half.
“We were a little upset how we played the other day, we felt the outcome should have been different,” Kelly Chavis said. “We came out and we talked about taking care of us; we had nine errors in that ballgame.”
St. Pauls plays Red Springs in a two-game Southeastern series next week, beginning Tuesday at Red Springs. Fairmont hosts reigning conference champion Midway Tuesday.
Sports editor Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.