By NICK CARROLL
SHORT GAP - Last Saturday baseball fans finally had a chance to ditch their winter coats and knit caps in exchange for sunglasses and baseball hats. The Frankfort Falcons, currently ranked #7 in AA, faced a big test as the #5 ranked team in AAA traveled from Shenandoah Junction looking to get revenge for a one run loss last season.
On the first day of April in 2017 Frankfort traveled to Jefferson and the Cougars mauled the Falcons 14-0 in game one. The Falcons dusted off their wings and fought back in game two stealing a 10-9 victory from the Cougars on their home turf. This year the double header gave Frankfort home field advantage, but there was an overall sense of deja vu in the air. Once again the Falcons lost the first game by a significant margin 12-6, and once again they resurrected like a phoenix beating Jefferson in game two by one run, as Caleb Hare crushed a walk-off single to capture a 9-8 victory.
Frankfort was down 7-3 heading into the bottom of the 5th inning and freshman Brady Whitacre didn’t shrivel when the spotlight was placed upon him as he hit a single to right field with 2 outs on the board to score Blake Wasson and trim the lead to 7-4. Frankfort scored 4 runs in the 6th as Foster Conis drove in Blake Rhodes to make the game 7-5, then with the bases loaded Wyatt Yates tattooed a double to left field scoring 3 runs to give Frankfort the lead 8-7. Coach Matt Miller talked about the big inning for the Falcons, “We have been hitting the ball well this year so I wasn’t too worried about the score. I knew if the top of the order came up and we could get a couple runners on base then Wyatt drove a 3 run double to the gap to take the lead.”
Miller continued, “Zack Whitacre has been our leadoff hitter for 3 years, then Caleb comes up and gets a hit, then Foster Conis gets on by walk, it was up to Wyatt. Our seniors and juniors have been stepping up doing what they are supposed to be doing, as Wyatt hit the ball to the fence to score 3 runs. Foster did a great job of scoring from first base on that play with a great slide to the outside and keeping away from the catcher because it was a bang bang play.”
The Cougars clawed back scoring 1 run in the top of the 7th inning to tie the game 8-8. In the bottom of the 7th inning Brendan Whiteman reached third base via sacrifice bunt by Blake Rhodes, while Chandler Rhodes advanced to second. With only 1 out on the board and runners in scoring position, Jefferson decided to intentionally walk Zack Whitacre to load the bases hoping for a double play.
The fate of the game was in the hands of Caleb Hare as he stepped into the batters box. With the count at 1-1, Caleb found his pitch to hit and drove a frozen rope to left field scoring Whiteman for the walk-off win.
Coach Miller commented, “Caleb crushed it and that would have been a ground rule double because the ball actually hopped the fence. Thats a big win for our team, because these guys (Jefferson) are experienced.”
Coach Miller has strong faith his ball club can compete with anybody in the state including a Top 5 class AAA team like Jefferson. “If we play Jefferson 15 times we would probably win 8 or 9 of those games. In fact I believe we are the better team this year, but their program is outstanding and hats off to Coach Lowry.” Frankfort’s current record is 9-3 overall after a double header sweep over Moorefield on Tuesday night winning 7-2 & 14-3.
Coach Miller highlighted some of the reason the Falcons have had success this year, “The senior leadership we have had this year is amazing, especially out of our catcher Nick Corwell. Sometimes we didn’t have that strong leadership last season and this year Nick has stepped up and been that vocal guy we needed. I’ve got 11 guys that work their butt off and I could mention every single one of them and tell you something good they have done this year. I love this group of guys.” Frankfort faced Southern Garrett on Wednesday night and the results will be published in Sports this weekend.