FREDERICKTOWN — The top-seeded Fredericktown Freddies’ baseball season came to an end on their home field on Saturday, as they were upset by Bishop Ready in their Division III Central District Sectional Tournament game.
After being down early, the Freddies (22-5) grabbed a 2-1 lead when center fielder Matt Smith doubled home shortstop Justin Snyder with two out in the first. Smith, who slipped and fell rounding second, inadvertently drew a throw from the Ready (8-20) cutoff man. The throw got away from the second baseman and rolled away allowing Smith to go to third. Rounding third, Smith slipped once again, which drew another throw, this time to third. Again, the ball was misplayed and rolled away. Smith scampered home to give the Freddies a 2-1 lead.
The next batter, third baseman Austin Hoeflich, followed with a scorching triple. That hit would be the last extra-base hit for the Freddies off of Knights’ starter Erick Dubiel, who went the rest of the way and was the winning pitcher.
Freddies’ right fielder Jordan Radel had a one-out single in the second. He moved up to second on a passed ball, and scored when pitcher Nate Chilcote drove him home with a single.
First baseman C.J. Ruhl’s single to lead off the third was the last Freddies hit to leave the infield. After that, Dubiel only yielded one more hit — an infield hit by Ruhl in the fifth. Dubiel had seven strikeouts and only gave up a single walk and a hit batsman — in both cases, it was Smith, who reached base in all three of his plate appearances.
“We’ve lived all year by hitting one to nine,” said Fredericktown coach Matt Smith. “We’ve picked each other up. We had guys on base. We had plenty of opportunity. That’s what we’ll focus on and that’s what we’ll beat ourselves up over. We had runners in scoring position and didn’t necessarily get them in. The difference between winning and losing is very slim — it always is in any sport. It was just one of those days that we just didn’t get a bounce here or there or we didn’t make an opportunity when we needed to.”
Chilcote kept pace with Dubiel, retiring everyone he faced except in the fifth, when he yielded a walk and a pair of extra base hits. The game-winner was a two-run double by Knights’ right fielder Matt Feeney that scored second baseman Ross Etgen and Ryan Moore, who was inserted for Dubiel as a pinch-runner.
“Nate Chilcote put us in a position to win,” said coach Smith. “That’s what you ask your pitcher to do. He threw as well as he has thrown all year in a big game like this. I mean it’s a tournament with it all on the line and the winner goes home and ultimately, there’s pressure. You can tell teenagers to ignore the pressure, but they understood the magnitude of this game.”
Coach Smith kept the disappointing, sudden end of one of the Freddies’ best seasons in perspective.
“Sometimes in life, you come up a little short,” he said. “These kids have played hard all year and I’m proud of them.”
Ready advances to the District Semifinal, which is scheduled for today at Hilliard Davidson, and will play Columbus Academy.