Then the wheels fell off for Jones. Barker drove a ball into the right-center field gap to keep the inning going with an RBI double that brought in Laughlin and put the Warriors up 4-1. Barker didn’t stay on the bases long, coming home just a few pitches later on Noah Whitten’s RBI hit.
Suddenly, with just a few swings of the bat, Van Buren had opened a 5-1 lead. Two more hits by Tyler Sprouse and Tanner Smith added one more run, for good measure, to build the lead up to 6-1 as the five-run, six-hit rally with two outs suddenly brought an end to the day for Jones and gave the Warriors control of the contest.
“That’s the approach we have to come out with for the entire ballgame,” Scott said. “We need to have those kind of at-bats in the very first inning.”
“We just kind of pick each other up,” Barker added. “When one person starts hitting the ball, we all start hitting the ball.”
While one starting pitcher went from dominating to out of the game, the other starter took over command. Fitzsimmons shook off the early threats by WMU and, with a five-run lead, set down the Wolves in order over the next three innings on the way to earning his seventh win with seven strikeouts and only two runs allowed in the complete game effort.
“I thought Thomas pitched great the entire game for us,” Scott said. “There were a few shaky moments early, but he showed great poise pitching through that to keep us in front and really started to find his command as the game wore on.”
Van Buren (22-5) put it away with two more runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth. WMU (7-17) did themselves no favors, committing a pair of errors in the final two innings that helped the Warriors score four unearned runs.