(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Rebounding from their second round loss to Jackson, the Charleston Fighting Squirrels kept their championship hopes alive with a 7-0 win over Park Hills on Friday in the Senior Babe Ruth Tournament.
"We took bad cut, after bad cut, after bad cut," Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. "Then we finally found a way to squeeze out a few runs. We got a lead and found a little breathing room and with Paul Fox on the mound we felt pretty good."
With their season on the line in the double-elimination tournament, the Fighting Squirrels were able to take a slim 1-0 thanks to a run in the top of the first.
After holding onto that run for three innings, Charleston a little breathing room when Jacob Wilson had an RBI single in the fourth. A suicide squeeze by Tim Fox in the fifth frame ass to the Squirrels tally to put Charleston up 3-0.
It was in the sixth frame that the Squirrels were able to blow the game open with a three-run rally that doubled Park Hills deficit.
Following a pair of quick outs to start the inning a single by Brad Potts got things going for Charleston before a walk to Jacob put runners on first and third. A line drive by Ethan Browning to deep right-center field cleared both runners from the bases while leaving Browning with a triple.
Ryan Fortner made it back-to-back triples to bring home Browning and extend the Squirrels lead to 6-0.
Back up to bat one last time in the seventh, Charleston put up their last run when Trey Watkins laid down a suicide squeeze to plate Tim Fox from third.
"The difference today and all year is the fact we came up with a couple two out hits," Minner said. "We got the squeezes down, but all the runs that we scored were with two outs other than squeezes."
Cruising through all seven innings on the mound, Squirrels' start Paul Fox picked up the win. He allowed three hits without surrendering a walk or run and struck out six. Fox retired the side in order in five frames.
"Anytime your pitcher goes out and throws a shutout you're going to have a chance to win," Minner said. "Fox was in good command today. "He threw a lot of 2-1 breaking balls that evened him up in the count. He'd get behind, but he threw his curveball for a strike today. It allowed our defense to play and I thought they played tremendous today.
"I think we had one error, but we cam and got he baseball and made plays when we needed to. We just never felt threatened while Fox was on the mound."
At the plate the Squirrels' 10-hit effort was led by Potts. Serving as the leadoff hitter Potts was 2 for 2 with a pair of walks to reach in all four plate appearances while scoring in three separate innings. Browning and Fortner also collected two hits apiece, including a triple by both.
With the win Charleston will be back in action today at 1:15 p.m. against the loser of the Poplar Bluff/Chaffee game.
Charleston 100 113 1 - 7
Park Hills 000 000 0 - 0
WP -- Paul Fox. LP -- Jake Swain. Multiple hitters: (C) Brad Potts 2-2, Ethan Browning 2-4, Ryan Fortner 2-4. 2B -- (C) Trey Watkins. 3B -- (C) Browning, Fortner.