Swinging the bat well and having good at-bats doesn’t always produce the desired result, but Brandon Fairbanks found all three to his liking Thursday night at Catholic High.
The Bears first baseman had a bases-clearing double and four RBIs overall to lead Catholic to a 7-4 victory in a battle between the leaders in District 5-5A.
The win gives Catholic (23-5, 6-1) sole possession of first place in district with three games left. Dutchtown (18-10, 5-2) will get a chance to redeem itself when the teams meet again Saturday at Dutchtown.
“(Fairbanks) has been in a little bit of a funk,” Catholic coach Brad Bass said. “But he’s been having some great batting practice, some great at-bats and it worked out for him tonight. It was awesome for him.”
A first-inning throwing error by Dutchtown second baseman Cameron Sibley opened the door for a pair of unearned runs by the Bears. From there, Catholic led the rest of the way, but it was pressured as the Griffins put runners on base every inning.
“I can’t remember the last time we had a three-up, three-down inning, but that’s what these games are about,” Bass said. “These are games that bring out a playoff atmosphere.”
Dutchtown was within 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth, but Catholic loaded the bases with two outs on Griffins starter Cade Blanchard.
The Bears sandwiched two walks around Patrick Crifasi’s single to bring Fairbanks to the plate.
Fairbanks hit the first pitch he saw into left-center field for a three-run double. After Dutchtown scored twice in the top of the fifth, Fairbanks added an RBI single in Catholic’s half of the inning.
In the sixth, Catholic scored again with two outs on Payton Alexander’s pinch-hit RBI single.
The loss was the second consecutive for Dutchtown, but Griffins coach Chris Schexnaydre was pleased with his team’s effort after a 2-1 loss to East Ascension on Tuesday.
“I told them I was proud of them because we competed tonight,” Schexnaydre said. “I didn’t feel like we competed the last game out, but we did tonight for seven innings against a quality team.
“I think the difference in these two teams right now is that (Catholic) shows up at the park expecting to win and we don’t. We don’t have that just yet.”
Dutchtown cut into a 5-1 deficit in the fifth inning. Caleb Ricca, who was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, led off the inning with a double. After Payton Stafford was hit by a pitch, Ricca scored when Bears starter Brady Sartin threw wildly on a pickoff attempt to first.
Stafford moved over to second, and took third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Sartin threw another wild pitch allowing Stafford to score.
Ricca’s sacrifice fly in the sixth accounted for Dutchtown’s final run. The Griffins put two men on base with two outs in the top of the seventh, but came away empty.
Catholic reliever Landon Boeneke struck out pinch hitter Connor McRory to close out the game and earn the save.
“We’ve got to bounce back,” Schexnaydre said. “I feel really good about Saturday. I feel like we can come out and compete again. We can go out and beat these guys.”