Making their case
Southridge's Jace Fry outduels Westview's Sam Johnson on Tuesday
ROCK CREEK - Tuesday's Southridge at Westview baseball game pretty much had it all.
A match-up between two of the state's best pitchers and the state's top two teams. A battle for control of the 2011 Metro League race. A tight contest that was up for grabs until the final out. Heck, there was even sunshine and a big crowd at Westview High School.
In the end, though, it was Southridge senior pitcher Jace Fry and the Skyhawks who carried the day, winning 3-2, building their lead over the Wildcats to two games, and guaranteeing themselves at least a share of the 2011 Metro League title.
'I wasn't nervous as much as focused,' said Fry, who threw an 11-strikeout, three-hitter and went 2-for-3 at the plate, driving in all three of his team's runs with a fifth-inning home run. 'I had complete confidence in our team. I knew we were going to get the job done today.'
'It feels great,' added senior left fielder Trent Calmer, who went 2-for-3 and scored once in the win. 'Getting a win against a team that good always feels good.'
The win lifted Southridge's Metro League record 12-1 (21-1 overall) and gave the Skyhawks a two-game lead over Westview (10-3 in Metro play, 19-5 overall) with two games remaining, today's (Thursday's) 5 p.m. game at Southridge (it was initially rained out Wednesday), and Friday's 5 p.m. game at Westview.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, lost for the third time in four games, but remained confident of their chances to come back in the final two games of the regular season.
'We've just got to move on and get these two wins because we want to get that No. 1 seed from the Metro going into the playoffs,' said Westview junior shortstop Carson Kelly, who went 2-for-3 at the plate and knocked in both his team's runs.
'They played a good game, but we feel we have two pitchers that are better than their last two pitchers,' said senior center fielder Phil Belding, who went 1-for-2 and scored both his team's runs. 'We feel we can get these next two games and win the series and win Metro.'
The Wildcats led early in Tuesday's contest, getting a Belding single to open the bottom of the first, and after a Fry wild pitch, a Kelly hit to left-center field to make it 1-0.
Despite that quick start, Tuesday's game - billed as a pitcher's duel between Westview's University of Oregon-bound Sam Johnson and the OSU-bound Fry - was far more about pitching and defense than hitting.
Johnson shut out Southridge for the game's first four innings on Tuesday, not allowing a hit until Fry's third-inning double, and striking out five in that span. Fry, after allowing that early run, followed suit, setting down 15 straight batters until Belding walked in the sixth, and struck out eight in that stretch.
'One thing against Sam is you can't swing out your (backside) because if that changeup comes in like it did a couple times to me, you're not going to hit it,' Fry said.
Fry 'got ahead of all of us, and threw his pitch and made us hit his pitch, and that's why we didn't hit him very well,' Belding said.
Johnson's good fortune would come to an end in the top of the fifth, though. There, Kevin Fajardo drew a one-out walk, Calmer singled to left, and Fry followed with a huge opposite-field homer to left to bring home all three of his team's runs.
'We knew he was going to throw his fastballs away, so as soon as I saw it coming in, I saw the four-seam spin on it and I thought 'Go the other way with it,'' Fry said.
Westview wasn't done, though. Belding worked Fry for a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, then came all the way around to score when Kelly hammered an opposite-field double down the right-field line. Fry issued an intentional walk to the next hitter, Johnson, then struck out Ryan Susnow to end the threat and preserve his team's 3-2 lead.
The Skyhawks might have added to that lead in the seventh too. Calmer got things started with a leadoff single, took second on a wild pitch and third on a Fry bunt, but got caught off third on Toma Matisoff's grounder and got tagged out by Kyle Henderson.
Fry didn't blink, though, and set down Shane Suyama, Tate Glasgow and Yota Ishii in order in the bottom of the seventh to end the game, fanning Ishii for his 11th strikeout in the process.
Fry allowed two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out 11. Johnson, meanwhile, allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out seven.
After getting knocked out of the series opener a year ago, Fry was relishing his senior season success against the Cats.
'This was the one he's going to remember, and this is the one I'm going to remember,' he said.
Now, both teams set their sights on the remaining games of the series and the chance to secure a Metro title.
'We're still proud of how we played. They just played better,' Belding said. 'Maybe this will help us see what we have to do against these good teams and good pitchers.'
'Co-champions is good, but we want to take Metro League,' Calmer said. 'We want to finish this.'
In addition to Fry, Calmer and Kelly, Southridge's Derek Keller also went 2-for-3 at the plate.
n Wednesday's Westview at Southridge game was rained out will be replayed at 5 p.m. today (Thursday).