Feichtner, Eagles handle Warriors
GALION — Mohawk, which hasn’t scored many runs this season, couldn’t fall behind Colonel Crawford and pitcher Gavin Feichtner Friday in a Division IV district final at Galion.
However, that’s exactly what the Warriors did. As a result, the Eagles won the district championship 8-1.
The Eagles (22-7) will be making a regional appearance for the first time in 54 years.
“I thought we played great defense, we had some great pitching and some good at-bats. To advance, that’s what you have to do,” Eagles coach Dan Gorbett said. “For me, my first nine times we made it here for Crawford we never won, so this is a King Kong-sized monkey off my back personally. This is very special to me. To come back to Crawford and win is special.”
The Eagles scored first in the top of the first off Mohawk starter Landen Snyder. Cade Hamilton started the game with a single to right field, Trevin Fairchild bunted him over to third (no one covered third) and Feichtner singled in Hamilton with a single past the third baseman.
After Mohawk (19-7) went down in order, Colonel Crawford added two more runs, which was plenty with the way Feichtner was dealing on the mound.
Snyder walked consecutive batters and the Hamilton singled down the first base line and Fairchild brought a run home on a sac fly.
“In games like this it’s important to score first,” Mohawk coach Eric Hoover said. “We made a little mental error and let him get to third on a bunt, so they got that run in the first.
“Maybe we were a little tight before the game and even more in the second (inning). We don’t put up a lot of runs generally anyway, so you see them putting some up and you begin to question things a little bit. Obviously, (Feichtner) is really good. We (now) have scored two runs on them in 25 innings (this season).”
Feichtner was in control through two innings, but Mohawk was just down 3-0 and hanging in.
But in the third frame, things started to snowball for the Warriors.
The Eagles got a run on a passed ball at home, another run on a wild throw to first, Fairchild drove in a run reaching on an error and Feichtner and Brock Ritzhaupt both had RBI singles to give the Eagles an 8-0 advantage through three innings.
“It got away from us in the third,” Hoover said. “Some more mental errors and a couple physical ones. We had a couple opportunities to make plays and get out of it and keep it 4-0 where we’d feel a lot better about things.”
Mohawk didn’t get a hit off of Feichtner until Blake Harper lined an RBI double to right center in the fourth frame. The Warriors managed just two hits and struck out 14 times against the junior hurler.
“The last three or four games … this is what he’s done. He’s been throwing strikes,” Gorbett said. “At the beginning of the year he was walking like four a game and now he’s all around the strike zone. I wasn’t surprised with his performance. It’s what he’s been doing the last three or four weeks.”
On the flip side, Snyder went 2 1/3 innings on the mound, while teammate Wyatt Swartz finished the game, not giving up a run in 4 2-3 innings of work. Both are sophomores.
“Snyder had a great year and gave us a chance to win every time he was out there and I think he had a great year,” Hoover said. “Wyatt … I don’t know, he’s a little different. He has a little different motion. He knows how to pitch and get people out. He has good changeup speed and good movement and he’s also had a really good second-half of the year pitching for us.”
The Warriors have quite a few of younger players in the lineup and will lose just three seniors — Tanner Osborn, Bryce Kirian and Cole Widmer — all big losses.
“My three seniors did a lot for us. They hit a ton for us this year, pitching, catching and driving in a bunch of runs, so we gotta find some people to try to replace those three,” Hoover said. “But I think we have some pieces that will be able fill those spots.
“I couldn’t ever guess that we would have had this type of success this year. We lost our best hitter coming back, Trey (Combs) was our No. 2 pitcher coming back and he couldn’t pitch at all this year, so we lost some due to injuries. But we fought and won a lot of close games. I think we won seven or eight one-run games. I was proud of the way they were able to do that. It can give them something to look forward to next year.”