“They’re one unit. It takes a lot to tear this group of young men apart,” Fairfield head coach Josh Allison said. “This could have been that night, but these guys wouldn’t let it happen.”
Entering the night with identical 5-1 conference records, Fairfield figured to be in for two very even games with Fort Madison. Game one saw very little offense from either teams as both squads came up with just four hits with the Bloodhounds able to put across the only two runs of the opener off Fairfield game one starter Joseph Hieptus, who struck out nine batters in the tough luck loss suffered without allowing an earned run to Bloodhound.
If game one was frustrating, game two didn’t get much better. Fort Madison jumped all over Austin Gridley, who walked six batters in an inning and a third, as the Bloodhounds scored three runs alone in the first inning of the nightcap and added two more before Gridley was pulled for Ryan Gaumer.
Fort Madison struck Gaumer for four of their five hits in the nightcap, adding three more runs in the third to open an 8-0 lead. Suddenly, a possible mercy-rule win and a two-game edge over Fairfield seemed much more likely than the two teams remaining tied for the conference lead.
“I think the biggest thing that changed for us was the guys bringing themselves together in that huddle (before the bottom of the fourth),” Allison said. “Nobody had to bring them together. They did that themselves. They knew it was time that they had to get something done.”
Fairfield began its rally much as Fort Madison did in game two, by waiting on pitches to either drive for hits or for to reach on walks. Soon enough, Fairfield put together its first scoring rally of the night and got two runs home on a fly ball a pair of Bloodhound defenders lost in the lights to pull within 8-2.