Class C baseball: Hilltoppers secure ninth title (with photo gallery)

Showcasing solid pitching, superb defense and line-drive hitting, Fort Plain delivered coach Craig P
Fort Plain baseball players celebrate after defeating Warrensburg 7-0.
Fort Plain baseball players celebrate after defeating Warrensburg 7-0.

Names like Baker and Hanifin appear in the boxscores just about every season for the Fort Plain baseball team. That’s because it’s all about tradition for the Hilltoppers.

Showcasing solid pitching, superb defense and line-drive hitting, Fort Plain delivered coach Craig Phillips’ ninth sectional title Tuesday with a convincing 7-0 victory over Warrensburg in the Section II Class C championship game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.

Shortstop Brent Baker made several acrobatic plays in the field, Chris Hanifin ripped a two-run double and Dylan Pechtel tossed a complete-game three-hit shutout for the 18-3 Hilltoppers, who

earned their sixth Class C champ­ionship to go along with three Class D titles.

“Tradition never graduates,” said Phillips, who picked up his 658th career win as a high school baseball coach. “Fort Plain kids are the best. They don’t have a lot of money, and they don’t ride fancy cars, but they give you everything they can on the field.”

Phillips said he has become accustomed to seeing names like Baker and Hanifin providing heroics down through the years.

“That’s typical Baker,” Phillips said about Baker’s numerous strong defensive plays at short. “There’s been a Baker on just about every sectional championship team I’ve had, and they all play like that. He knows when to throw the ball, and when to hold it.”

Phillips added that there also have been plenty of Hanifins on Fort Plain championship teams, as well.

“It started with Joe, and then came Pat, Danny, Mark and now Chris. There has always been a Hanifin on every championship team that we’ve had.”

Fort Plain, the No. 1 seed, put up four runs in the first inning and coasted the rest of the way. After catcher Jack Ray reached on an infield single and stole second, Baker walked. Cleanup hitter Jabin Weaver singled to center, scoring Ray.

Pechtel reached on a fielder’s choice, with Baker being thrown out at third. But then Hanifin belted a double to left, scoring both Weaver and Pechtel. Ashton Parker’s single to center plated Hanifin.

The Hilltoppers tacked on two more runs in the second off Warrensburg ace John Joseph. Travis Vance reached with a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Harold Dettmer reached on an infield single before Vance scored on a wild pitch. Ray then drove in Dettmer with a long sac­rifice fly to right to push Fort Plain’s lead to 6-0.

The Hilltoppers added a run in the fifth when Ray tripled to deep center and scored on a single to left by Weaver.

“This one wasn’t as exciting as some of our other wins because it wasn’t a one-run or two-run game. We broke it open early, and Dylan Pechtel pitched an excellent game,” said Phillips.

“The heat made it very tiring today, but I pushed through it,” said Pechtel, who improved his personal record to 4-0. “My team had my back. I was excited because this is the first time I ever pitched here. This is amazing to be part of this. It’s great to play for Fort Plain.”

“That 4-0 lead in the first inning really gave us a spark,” said Baker. “The secret to Fort Plain’s success is our coaching staff.”

Phillips has been hinting that this may be his last hurrah at Fort Plain.

“We’ve still got the C-CC playoff on Friday, and maybe a few games after that if we’re lucky,” he said. “Who knows?. This could be my last sectional championship. I might join my grandchildren in Florida. You never know.”

Pechtel allowed only two balls out of the infield all day, including Nick Monroe’s two-out double to left in the top of the seventh, but after Monroe moved to third on a wild pitch, Pechtel got Jacob Siletti to ground out to first to end the game.

Tyler Williams and Justin Baird each had infield hits for Warrensburg (8-7).

Warrensburg 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Fort Plain 420 010 x — 7 9 0

Joseph and Curtis; Pechtel and Ray.

Categories: -Sports-, High School Sports

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