FAIRFIELD — Cade Boxrucker appreciated the late offensive outburst by his Badin High School baseball teammates, even though it proved to be far more than he needed.
The junior right-hander retired the first 13 Fairfield batters he faced and finished with a four-hitter Saturday, and the visiting Rams rallied from a 2-1 deficit to sink their Butler County rivals 8-2 in front of a large crowd at Joe Nuxhall Field.
“We always hit late in the game when we need it. We’re always coming through clutch and doing our thing,” Boxrucker said. “We battle. We’re hard. We’re gritty. That’s all you can ask for in a team. We’re always going to fight our hardest and do what we do best, and that’s play baseball.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PHOTO GALLERIES
Boxrucker found himself trailing 2-1 after five innings, thanks to a two-run, bad-hop single by the Tribe’s Aidan Post in the bottom of the fifth.
The Rams (10-2) responded with two runs in the sixth and put up a five-spot in the seventh to win going away.
“I thought Box was dominant enough that a 1-0 lead could hold up, but it’s high school baseball. You never know what’s going to happen,” Badin coach Brion Treadway said. “Our guys were confident the whole game. Even when they went up one, I just felt like we were really close to breaking out.”
Alex Barger doubled, singled and drove in two runs for the Rams, and Josh Hegemann was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Kaden Kimbrell rocketed a leadoff triple to spark the visitors in the top of the sixth.
Fairfield lost for the sixth time in its last seven games and slipped to 5-7.
“This seems to be the trend right now,” Indians coach Tommy Begley said. “You look at our lineup and we’ve got a lot of inexperience. We had two freshmen out there playing today. But at some point these bumps and bruises are going to go away and we’re going to play really well for a complete game instead of four innings here, five innings there.
“We’re going to get there. The majority of this team is going to be back for at least two more years. I’m excited for what this team’s going to do because the pieces are there.”
Dylan Beal pitched six solid innings for Fairfield, allowing six hits and three runs. The hosts ended up using Nathan Sheriff, Damian Hendricks and Jarrett Hurst in the seventh, when Badin had only one RBI. Three runs came home on wild pitches, and one scored on an error.
Boxrucker struck out seven and walked one. He closed the game with a 1-2-3 seventh. Asked if he felt like he had his best stuff, Boxrucker said no.
“Not all the way, but I felt like I had good enough stuff to win the ballgame,” he said. “When I actually threw my slider, it was in the zone and always good. My mind-set was to finish the game and win it, and that’s what I did.”
“He was locating well,” Post said. “The location was the best thing for him.”
Fairfield caught a break in its two-run fifth when Post’s one-out ground ball took a wicked hop past Kimbrell at first base and gave the hosts a 2-1 lead.
“That was frustrating at first,” Boxrucker said. “I’ve always got to tell myself to keep my composure. I can’t lose it. I’ve always got to fight and continue on.”
Post, a senior first baseman, smiled at his good fortune.
“I thought I hit it on the barrel,” he said. “I was disappointed I didn’t get it on a line, but you take whatever you can get. It was a way of getting runs in, and I love doing whatever I can to help the team out.”
Begley said the entire experience will aid his team’s maturation.
“This is as close as we can get to a tournament game because there’s a big crowd, you’ve got two teams wanting to win for bragging rights, and you’ve got that pressure of Fairfield vs. Badin,” he said. “Getting that experience against a guy who throws the ball really well, that’s the big selling point for our team. We came out on the short end of the stick, but it was a good test for us.”
Asked about the Badin-Fairfield rivalry, Treadway and Begley both described it as a positive thing.
“I love all the close rivalries,” Treadway said. “I think they’re good for high school sports. Anytime the guys get up for a game on their own, that’s good.”
The Rams are answering a lot of the questions they had in the preseason, even while dealing with a number of issues.
“We’ve had some adversity thrown our way with some injuries, and some guys have just stepped up,” Treadway said. “They don’t take anything for granted. When struggles exist, they work hard instead of pouting about it. It’s been a lot of fun to come to the park every day with these guys.”
On Monday, Badin will travel to McNicholas for a Greater Catholic League Coed Division contest, while Fairfield will resume Greater Miami Conference play at Lakota West.
WP — Cade Boxrucker (3-0); LP — Dylan Beal (0-1). Records: B: 10-2, F 5-7