It was clear all along that both #5 Fairfield and #7 Centerville deserved berths in the Class 3A state baseball tournament, but only one could advance from the substate championship game in Fairfield Wednesday night. Appropriately enough, the two teams played into extra innings before Fairfield prevailed in the bottom of the ninth for a 2-1 victory.
Strikeouts were the order of the night, as Trojans starter Joseph Hietpas struck out 17 Centerville batters in nine innings, while Big Reds starter Kolten Gonnerman and reliever Michael Starcevich combined to strike out nine Fairfield hitters. The winning run for Fairfield, in fact, reached first base on a dropped strike three, the 26th combined “K” of the night.
Fairfield, which improved to 30-7 on the season, heads to the state tournament for the second time ever and the first since 1979. Centerville ends an outstanding season at 30-8, and bids a fond farewell to legendary head coach Bill Huisman, who is retiring from a long and successful career.