FAIRMONT - Fairmont Senior has clawed its way back to Charleston.
The Polar Bears baseball team is making its ninth trip to the state tournament in the last 10 seasons with a 4-0 victory against John Marshall in the Regional I final on Thursday night at Mary Lou Retton Park.
"It's real nice for our seniors to go down to Charleston again for the state tournament," Fairmont Senior coach Steve Naternicola said. "It's a nice accomplishment for the other kids too, especially for our freshman and sophomores. Now, we're down to four teams and we've got a shot at it."
John Marshall’s Zach Winfield tries to put a tag on Fairmont Senior’s Matt Robbins on Thursday.
Times West Virginian photo
Fairmont Senior (28-7), which in still in search of its first state title, will play Region 4 champ Nitro next Thursday in the state semifinals.
The Polar Bears are peaking at the right time, while getting help from their four seniors in Trevor Malnick, Tre Kerns, Tyler Walter and Corey Sidow. Malnick still recalls the last time he played the Monarchs during the heartbreaking 3-2 loss in 2009. Since then, he has had his eyes on winning a state title, while providing an accomplishing stat.
"Malnick is the only player in my 25 years that I have ever had who hit over .400 every year," Naternicola said.
Accomplishing that fleet is hard to come by, but it takes a team effort to win ballgames, and the Polar Bears did just that on Thursday.
In the sixth inning, Matt Robbins started the inning with a two-out hit up the middle. Robbins then stole second. Tyler Walter came to the plate with the game on the line. With two strikes, Walter's fought off a fastball that scored Robbins, giving the Polar Bears a 1-0 lead. This hit sparked FSHS and changed the momentum of the game. Trevor Malnick followed Walter's with a walk and Tre Kerns notched a RBI base hit, scoring Walters. Rider Skarzinski broke the game wide open with his single, which scored both Malnick and Kerns, giving the Polar Bears a comfortable cushion going into the seventh inning, 4-0.
"Somebody was going to lose. I've been in this a long time," John Marshall coach Bob Montgomery said. "That's the way a playoff game should be played. We had a very good game. Anybody that comes into athletics, somebody's going to be pretty happy and somebody isn't.
''We've had a real good season. We've started 1-6 and we had a pretty good game until the sixth inning."
Prior to the sixth inning, Fairmont Senior only had two hits. Trevor Malnick hit a double in the second inning, and Fletcher DeVaul smacked a triple in the third.
DeVaul started the game on the mound, allowing no hits and striking out two in 3.1 innings. Relieving DuVaul was Matt Robbins, where he picked up the victory, while adding seven more strikeouts to his repertoire, in 3.2 innings.
Shane Wellman pitched all seven innings for the Monarchs. Ryan Gellner had the only hit in the fourth inning for John Marshall, which ended its season at 22-16.