FISHERSVILLE — Fort Defiance and Wilson Memorial need extra baseball to determine a regional qualifier between the two Class 3 rivals.
The Indians forced a special playoff game Wednesday night, erupting for 13 runs over the fifth and sixth innings to break a 2-2 deadlock en route to a 15-2 rout of the Green Hornets in Shenandoah District baseball.
The start of the game was delayed 70 minutes after an afternoon shower left work on the field to be done in order to play.
Fort (7-5, 6-4) and Wilson (7-5, 6-4) now are set to play in a winner-take-all showdown 5:30 p.m. Friday at Stuarts Draft High School for the automatic Region 3C berth afforded the Shenandoah District.
Friday’s victor will go into regional play as the No. 8 seed and travel Monday to top-seeded Broadway. The loser packs up the uniforms as it won’t make the postseason as the lone at-large bid in the region, which is awarded based on the power ratings.
Fort came into Wednesday’s game in a win-or-go-home scenario.
If Wilson had won, the Hornets would have clinched the Region 3C spot and the Indians’ season would have been over.
In their most crucial game of the condensed season, the Indians gave the ball to Camden Herron, and the senior put together a masterful performance. Herron pitched five innings of two-hit ball, while striking out five and walking three. After Fort had taken an 8-2 lead in the top of the fifth, Herron struck out the side in the bottom of the frame after the first two batters had reached.
“I am so damn proud of Camden,” Fort head coach Damien Fink said. “He wanted the ball and he delivered. That was one gutty performance. He had pitched maybe 10 innings all season because of some arm trouble, but he came to me a few days ago and said if we are in this situation that he wanted the ball. That is true senior leadership right there.”
Despite scoring 15 runs, the Indians only had six hits, but used four Wilson errors and nine walks in the fifth and sixth innings to end the game early by the 10-run mercy rule. In the sixth when the Indians scored seven runs, they had only one hit, but received five straight walks, an error that allowed two runs, a hit batter with the sacks full and a wild pitch.
“The seniors have been in must-win situations before,” Fink said. “As sophomores in 2019 they upset Turner Ashby in the regionals. I felt good going into this game in a must-win situation knowing the seniors knew this pressure. I thought if we could get going early then we would be OK.”
And that is exactly what the Indians did, reaching Wilson starter Mason McDowell for a pair of tallies in the third. Mason Angel and Jack Liskey, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, start the inning with singles and both moved up a base on a wild pitch. Herron helped his cause by lofting a sacrifice fly to left that scored Angel. Then Ryan Cook ripped a run-scoring double to the right-center gap.
The Indians chased McDowell with two outs and two on in the inning, but reliever Aiden Podgorski recorded the final out to keep the damage at 2-0.
Fort’s lead was short-lived as the Hornets quickly tied the game in their at-bat. No. 9 hitter Jacob Wakefield led off with a single and rode home on Grayson Wright’s line triple into the right-center alley. Wright tied the game on Tanner Leche’s fielder’s choice.
But Wilson only had one hit the rest of the way, which came off reliever Kaden Johnson on the sixth.
Everything just started falling apart for the Hornets in the fifth. Two errors opened the floodgates for a six-run outburst that featured bases-loaded walks to Tyler Smith and Sam Tindall, while Angel capped the assault when he cleared the bases with a three-run double to deep left as the Indians sent 11 batters to the plate.
Fort paraded 12 batters in the seven-run sixth with the only hit coming off the bat of pinch-hitter Brodie Cash.
Angel had the only multi-hit game for the Indians with two and drove in three runs.
FORT DEFIANCE 15, WILSON MEMORIAL 2
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