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Fairland cashes in on sectional tourney title

PROCTORVILLE - The cash register finally rang for the Fairland Dragons. It was a "No Sale" for the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

Scoring opportunities were at a premium Friday in the Division III sectional championship game. Fairland was able to cash in while Ironton was short-changed as the Dragons won 2-0 behind the one-hit pitching of Michael Hill.

"We had some chances to score, but we couldn't cash in," Ironton coach Mark Lewis said. "We've got a good hitting team and a good defensive team, but good pitching usually stops good hitting. Their pitcher was just better than our hitters."

Hill struck out eight, walked four and hit a batter. He dodged

a couple of bullets, especially in the fifth inning.

With one out, Ryan Walker drew a walk and Troy Allen was hit by a pitch. Brigham Waginger put down a sacrifice bunt that went for an error and the bases were loaded.

Ironton pitcher Dennis Gagai faced Hill against a drawn-in infield and worked a 2-2 count. He then hit a hard one-hopper right at Fairland shortstop Cory McKnight who threw to home for the force out and the return throw to first base completed the double play.

"That may have been the difference in the game," Fairland coach Roger Snyder said.

Fairland, 19-3, then got a scoring opportunity in the sixth inning.

Hill led off the inning with a walk and went to third base when McKnight slipped a single just over the glove of Ironton first baseman Patrick Kouns.

Adam Fuller then put down a squeeze bunt that scored Hill with the go-ahead run.

"That was huge getting Mike to third base. That was a hit-and-run and you're supposed to find the opening," Snyder said of McKnight's hit.

"I had already told the kids if we got someone on third base with less than two outs we were going to squeeze."

After Josh Moore hit into a fielder's choice that saw McKnight thrown out at third base, Chris Barnett beat out an infield roller and Trenton Moore singled to load the bases.

After a lightning delay of 30 minutes, reliever Chad Miller hit Nolan Love with a pitch to force home Josh Moore.

Hill, rejuvenated by the break, struck out the side in the seventh inning to send his team to the district tournament at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Jackson.

"Mike pitched a very nice ball game. He didn't waste a lot of pitches. It was a very complete game," Snyder said.

Ironton's only hit was a lead off double by Chad Miller in the second inning. Chris Rakes drew a one-out walk, but Hill was able to work out of the jam.

Gagai pitched well in defeat. He struck out one, walked three and allowed only six h its.

Hill was 2-2 at the plate and Trenton Moore 2-3.

"Our kids gave a heck of an effort," Lewis said. "They battled all year. They weren't supposed to win this game and they were right there with a chance to win and that's all you can ask of your players."

Ironton finishes the season 14-8.

Fairland will play in the district tournament at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Jackson.

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Dennis Gagai, Chad Miller (6) and Dustin Preston. Michael Hill and Adam Fuller. W-Hill (8-K, 4-BB, 1-HBP). L-Gagai (1-K, 3-BB, 1-HBP). HBP-by Gagai (Nick Zundel), by Miller (Nolan Love), by Hill (Troy Allen). SB-Ironton: Josh Adkins; Fairland: Michael Hill. Sac-Ironton: Brigham Waginger; Fairland: Adam Fuller. 2B-Ironton: Chad Miller; Fairland: Michael Hill. Hitting-Ironton: Chad Miller 1-3; Fairland: Michael Hill 2-2, Trenton Moore 2-3, Chris Barnett 1-2, Cory McKnight 1-2.