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  • Val T.

Fairfield scores 9 in first, spoils Valley baseball’s opener


Sports Editor, RTC


Fairfield 11, Tippecanoe Valley 1 (5 innings): Hunter Craft, Markus Bernicky and Annikan Pettit each had a single, and Evan Myers drove in a run in the fourth, but the Valley baseball team lost their opener to visiting Fairfield Thursday.

Fairfield scored nine runs in the top of the first off Valley starter Markus Bernicky.

Fairfield had 14 hits, four which went for extra bases. They also took advantage of three Valley errors, which led to six unearned runs.

“Errors, a little bit of nerves, first-game jitters,” Valley coach Jarred Littlejohn said when asked to sum up the first inning. “But that’s no excuse. We’ve got to make plays. Markus did a good job pitching in the first inning. He pitched six, seven outs, and we’re not making plays. … He pitched well enough to get us out of the inning a long time before nine runs were even scored. And that’s just something that’s not acceptable as a varsity team. You can’t do that, especially playing against a good team like Fairfield.”

Fairfield added single runs in the third and fourth innings to make it 11-0. Valley scored in the bottom of the fourth.

Cameron Manuel allowed six hits and two runs in 4 ⅓ innings of relief. He walked none and fanned six.

Littlejohn said he expects Pettit, a two-time all-Three Rivers Conference player, to be a team leader. Pettit, a senior, is in his third season as Valley’s catcher. Bernicky and Noah Prater are also in their third year on the varsity.

Littlejohn called Bernicky the team’s No. 1 pitcher and said Prater will move all over the diamond. Prater has the most experience at first base, but Littlejohn said he will also see time at third base, shortstop and on the mound in addition to first this year.

Other seniors include Myers, Taylor Wallis, Hunter Craft and Cody Smith, a move-in from Rochester.

Littlejohn said the team has power hitters like Pettit but that they will try to be versatile.

“We have guys who have power, but it’s going to be a lot of grind, small ball, bunting, guys running,” Littlejohn said. “Annikan and Markus, those two guys … they have power. Those are the guys we’re going to lean on. After that, though, … we’re going to have to go small ball. We’re going to have to bunt, we’re going to have to hit and run. We’re going to have to do all those things just to move guys along the basepaths.

“We obviously want to have guys just swing and have free swings, but at the same time, we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing what we feel is right.”

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