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Pitching, defense gives Dragons win over Pioneers in 8 innings

PROCTORVILLE — The same formula has worked all season, so why change?

The Fairland Dragons have been relying on their pitching and defense all season and it has given them an Ohio Valley Conference title.

Friday it gave them their 15th win against only four losses as the Dragons beat the Wayne (W.Va.) Pioneers 3-2 in the eighth inning on a suicide squeeze bunt.

“Thackston got out of some jams early and we played good defense after that. That’s the way we win. It’s pitching and defense. We don’t score a bunch of runs,” said Fairland’s first-year head coach Bryan Ward.

Alex Thackston and Chad Fisher — Fairland’s top two pitchers — combined on a seven-hitter. Thackston struck out five, gave up two hits, no runs and no walks while Fisher fanned one, walked one, and allowed five hits and two earned runs.

Fairland made three errors early in the game, but Thackston was able to pitch out of a couple of jams to keep the game scoreless.

Neither team scored until the seventh inning

Caleb Webb singled, moved up on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a hit by Derek White to give Wayne a 1-0 lead. White went to second on the throw home and scored on a hit by Drew Riley.

But the Dragons wouldn’t quit as they scored twice in the bottom of the seventh.

Alec Warner reached on an error, Tyler Duty was hit by a pitch and Fisher was safe on an error as a run scored. Matt Campbell then had a two-out RBI single to tie the game.

Brandon Begil walked to start Fairland’s winning rally in the bottom of the eighth. Josh Ross beat out an attempted sacrifice bunt for a base hit and both runners moved up on a passed ball.

Warner was walked intentionally to load the bases and Eric Riley put down a one-out squeeze bunt that scored the winning run.

“Two times this year we’ve executed a suicide squeeze to win a game,” said Ward. “Campbell clutched up with two outs and got a run in and Riley stepped up, too.”

Wayne 000 000 20 = 2 7 2

Fairland 000 000 21 = 3 4 3

Brandon Mayne, Danny Cole (6) and Derek White. Alex Thackston, Chad Fisher (5) and Matt Campbell. W-Fisher (5-H, 2-ER, 1-K, 1-BB). L-Cole. Thackston 5-K, 0-BB, 2-H, 0-R. Hitting-Wayne: Derek White 1-4, Danny Cole 1-4, Drew Riley 2-4, Caleb Webb 3-3; Fairland: Eric Riley 1-4 RBI, Chad Fisher 1-2 RBI, Matt Campbell1-2 RBI, Josh Ross 1-1.