Guy Ellis

The championship game of the ’09 Ketchum Hardball Classic was lost to Mother Nature Saturday evening. Heavy rains from Friday night put paid to the final that was set to feature the Fairland Fighting Owls (6-0, 2A #18) in a match up with Pawnee HS. Officials from FHS, PHS, and KHS are in the process of re-scheduling the meeting for later this season.

“We are excited to be in the championship game,” said FHS Baseball Head Coach Jerry Johnson.  “Many of our players had (a championship in) this tournament as one of the goals they wished to accomplish this year.”

FHS finished as runners-up to Tulsa NOAH in the ’08 Hardball.

The Owls advanced to the finals on the power of wins over Commerce, Ketchum and Foyil from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Friday’s game with Foyil saw the Fighting Owls take a 7-2 victory in seven innings.

Fairland’s Jesse Drosche made his ’09 starting debut Friday collecting the win and going the full distance. Drosche recorded 11 strikeouts while giving up four hits in facing 28 batters.

“Jesse pitched well for us in his first varsity start of the year,” Johnson said.  “It was a close game until late and he stayed very composed on the mound.”

The Owls opened play with two first-inning runs off RBI’s from Yancey Lett and Jon Henry. Lett scored teammate Cale Schumacher, who had reached on a walk, while Henry’s single sent Lett across home plate.

FHS posted another run in the third when junior first baseman Brett Blalock blasted an RBI double that sent Lett across home plate for the second time.

Foyil closed the gap in the fourth and fifth innings scoring a run in each but five Panther errors in the sixth and seventh allowed Fairland to post four runs and put the game out of reach.

The Owl defense put the Panther bats on a three and out diet in the sixth and seventh innings with Drosche recording three strikeouts in the critical sides.

Lett finished the game with a 2 for 3 showing including an RBI and two runs. Henry went 3 for 3 with an RBI. Blake Robertson and Jordan Alexander each went 1 for 3 Friday.

“At the plate we got impatient and lifted a lot of fly balls when I felt like we needed to make their pitcher work more,” Johnson said.  “We made a lot of contact, but I felt like too many of us were hitting his pitch instead of ours.”

The Owls are scheduled to host Commerce today at 4:00 p.m.