FAIRFIELD — The wind may have been blowing in, but Austin Gridley was convinced he’d hit the ball pretty well in his first at-bat Wednesday night against Central Lee.
As the Fairfield senior headed toward first base, however, he couldn’t understand why the Central Lee right fielder was heading toward him. It was almost as if the ball was just a routine fly out to shallow center.
“I really didn’t understand that,” Gridley said. “It felt good when I hit. I definitely knew it was going go farther.”
Farther it did. Exactly a couple of feet farther than the right field fence at Fairfield’s baseball diamond. Gridley’s fifth home run of the season got the Trojan offense off on the right foot as seventh-ranked (3A) Fairfield scored nine times in the first three innings on the way to a 9-3 non-conference win over Central Lee.
“Austin’s seeing the ball extremely well right now,” Fairfield head baseball coach Josh Allison said. “He just got enough of that first one to put it right over the fence. I wasn’t sure myself until it landed on the other side.”
Gridley had plenty of help on Wednesday night. Mason Ellis, Cameron Baumann and Kooper Dahlstrom all doubled during the game with Dahlstrom driving in four runs while Ellis had a game-best three hits and two RBI.
Justin Leonard made that offense hold up by allowing just two hits against the Hawks. Central Lee found a way to scratch out a first-inning run thanks to a lead-off walk, steal and two-straight groundouts.
“Justin did a nice job battling out there,” Allison said. “He got the big outs when he needed to.”
Coming off a tough Southeast Conference split with rival Mount Pleasant, the win was exactly what Fairfield needed. The seventh-ranked Trojans (12-4) will head to Knoxville tonight.