FAIRFIELD — Even Mother Nature must have felt like the Centerville baseball team had spent enough time on the road.
Rather than make their sixth straight trip to play away from Pat Daugherty Field, rain on Tuesday left the diamond just outside Fairfield Middle School too saturated for a game. Centerville’s home diamond, however, was in perfect condition.
The eighth-ranked (3A) Big Reds made the most of an additional home game, scoring four times in the first inning and never looking back. Merrick Mathews sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the sixth brought home Kayden Kauzlarich, clinching a 10-0 win in six innings over Fairfield in Centerville’s first home game since a season-opening 16-6 win over Davis County back on June 15.
“I told our athletic director (Rich Parker) on Monday night that, if there was any chance that it might be too wet to play at Fairfield to see if we could get the game moved over here,” Centerville head baseball coach Ryan Hodges said. “Fairfield was fine with it. The only question was seeing if the umpires wouldn’t mind coming here instead of Fairfield.
“Fortunately, they live in Sully, so it all worked out.”
Brady Kauzlarich pitched the first five innings for Centerville, allowing just four hits and two walks while walking eight batters. Fairfield loaded the bases in both the second and third innings with two outs.
Instead of getting that one big hit that could have changed the course of the game, Cameron Ledger and Brad Smithburg were struck out by Kauzlarich to end both threats.
“That really kind of sums up our season. We’re still looking to get that one big hit or make that one play defensively to get that momentum on your side,” Fairfield head baseball coach Josh Allison said. “It’s important for these guys to learn how to do that. We haven’t learned that yet, but we know this is a process.
Fairfield nearly knocked off Fort Madison, the early leader in the Southeast Conference, in the second game of a varsity doubleheader on Monday. After being shutout 7-0 on just six hits in game one, Fairfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead in game two before errors helped open the door for a Bloodhound rally, leading to an 8-5 Fort Madison victory in the nightcap.
Nate Smithburg going 3-4, including a double, to finish off a four-hit doubleheader for Fairfield on Monday. Max Weaton went 2-4 in the second game for Fairfield (2-8, 2-5 Southeast), driving in two runs.
“We’re going to keep working at it, we’re going to get better at it and we’re going to keep going,” Allison said. “That’s all you can do.”
Two errors in the first inning by the Trojans helped Centerville keep the line moving as the Big Reds sent eight batters to the plate against Weaton, who got the start on the mound Tuesday for Fairfield. Kauzlarich bunted his way on base twice on Tuesday with the first bunt in the first inning leading to a throwing error that allowed Centerville to put a runner in scoring position right off the bat.
Kayden Kauzlarich bunted his cousin to third, where a wild pitch allowed Brady to race home with the first run. Walker White later drove in McCain Oden with an RBI single and eventually scored Centerville’s fourth run of the inning, drawing an errant throw from right while going from first to third base on a two-out single by Otis Williams.
“For the most part, a lot of our guys are starting to get into that rhythm of being game ready. Walker is definitely one of those guys,” Hodges said of the Centerville senior. “I talked to him after the first few games. I told him to relax, not look over his shoulder and just go to work. He’s definitely done that. He’s solid through batting practice and he carries it over to the game, which is very nice.”
White added a run-scoring double in the third inning, the third hit in four at-bats for and fourth hit in the past two games for the Big Reds designated hitter. White had the biggest blow Saturday in a 14-5 win over Moravia, delivering a grand slam in a game with so many players familiar with each other having grown up playing youth baseball in Appanoose County.
“I probably know 2/3 of the guys on that team,” White said of the Mohawks. “That was a pretty special moment.”
Elan Ledger had two hits for Fairfield, who will return to Southeast Conference action at Washington on Thursday. Centerville (5-1) will return home for a South Central Conference make-up game with Knoxville before heading to Albia on Thursday and returning home to host Oskaloosa in a non-conference contest on Friday.