“We are blessed and very fortunate to still be playing,” Fayetteville head coach Morris Phillips said. “I am very thankful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for everything he has done for us. To be in the Elite Eight of Class 1A baseball is a great feeling. I am just pumped and excited about that. It is an awesome feeling to be here.”
The first game of the series was a pitching duel between each team’s ace pitcher. Fayetteville’s Zach McGrady pitched a one-hit shutout to earn the win off the mound.
“The defense helped out a lot,” McGrady said. “We didn’t commit an error the entire game. We played the best defensive game that we played all year. That was the best pitching that I have done all year. It was just a perfect combination.”
Holy Spirit’s Jackson Terry only allowed three hits and one unearned run in a losing effort.
The Wolves were able to manufacture a run in the seventh inning. Terry walked Hunter Garner and Tyler Pennington came in to pinch run for Garner. Pennington advanced to second base on a pass ball. Mason Vick’s fly ball to right field for the second out of the inning allowed Pennington to advance to third.
Pennington scored on a pass ball from third base to give Fayetteville a 1-0 win over Holy Spirit in the first game of the doubleheader.
“It was awesome,” Pennington said. “It was a close call at second. I had to slide to the outside of the bag. I got to third and I got there right in time. It was my first time getting in the game and I made it happen. It was unexpected, but I love it.”
The Wolves (21-17) carried the momentum from the end of the first game into the second game.
McGrady got things going with a single. He was able to advance to second base on an error on the right fielder. Justin Rick hit a double to drive in McGrady to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead. Stephen Brasher’s ground out to the short stop allowed Ricks to score from third base to give Fayetteville a 2-0 lead.
In the third inning, the Wolves increased their lead to 3-0. Ricks got things started for Fayetteville with a two-out triple deep into right center field. Brasher drove in Ricks with an RBI single.
In the fifth inning, McGrady scored on a ground out to make it 4-0. Brasher hit a single to score Ricks to give Fayetteville a 5-0 lead.
Holy Spirit fought its way back into the game in the bottom half of the frame.
Terry hit a two-run single to score William David and Pierce Goodbread to cut the lead down to 5-2.
The Titians cut the Wolves’ lead down to 5-3 in the sixth when Dalton Vick’s pick-off attempt sailed past Garner which allowed Garrett Nichols to score.
Fayetteville added an insurance run in the seventh inning to seal the win.
Ricks pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs in a winning effort. Dalton Vick allowed two hits and an earned run in his 2 2/3 innings of relief pitching.
“I am very proud of the way our guys played the second game,” Phillips said. “Ricks battled; he didn’t have his best stuff today. I am very proud of Dalton Vick for stepping up and coming and shutting them down like he did. He did an excellent job.”
Phillips was also proud of the day that Mason Vick had defensively.
“I have to say Mason Vick, the second baseman for us today, played a heck of a game,” Philips said. “I don’t remember how many outs he had off the top of my head, but he played an excellent game. He got deep balls in the whole and he didn’t have any errors. I want to say he had close to 10 put-outs today in both games combined. I am very proud of him. He is a ninth grader stepping up big for us and he is doing a great job.”
For the series, Ricks went 6-for-6 from the plate with an RBI and a walk.
“I feel like I was hitting it where it was pitched,” Ricks said. “If it was pitched outside, I would send it to right field. I didn’t have any to left field. I guess I got all outside pitches.”
Fayetteville will hit the road to take on Maplesville in the third round of the AHSAA playoffs next Friday. Maplesville swept Verbena 9-5, 8-5 on Friday.