SHELBY — Carson Feichtner figured his team needed a boost — or in this case a blast — or two.
His first one, a double to deep centerfield in the third, put the Eagles ahead 2-0. His second two-bagger in the fifth gave Colonel Crawford a 3-0 lead as it defeated Genoa 4-2 in Thursday’s Division III district semi-final game.
“It was nice to get those. I’ve had my ups-and-downs all year. I’ve been on a roller coaster,” the junior catcher said.
The Eagles were fairly quiet in the first two innings. Then things got rolling as Micah Thomas opened the third with a walk.
After a sacrifice bunt by Nolan McKibben, the Comets opted to walk Cade Hamilton to put runners on first and second and pitch to Feichtner.
He responded to a 3-2 count pitch with a drive that landed near the fence and brought home two runs.
“When we get through the order once, we sort of get our groove and get going,” Feichtner said.
His second double drove in a third run before winning pitcher Drayton Burkhart drove him in with an RBI single.
The game began as a pitchers’ duel between Burkhart and Genoa’s Jacob Emerson.
Burkhart recorded six strikeouts in the first three frames and Emerson seven.
Colonel Crawford head coach Dan Gorbett said he relies on his pitcher’s toughness.
“He competes. The look he gives me when I say, ‘Hey, can you make it all seven or should I pull you?’ I’m like OK, I’ll go back to the dugout. He did that against Oak Harbor. He had pretty good stuff today and was able to get outs when he needed it,” he said.
“He has command of the strike zone. Even when he walks some guys, he gets that right back and throws strikes. He can throw any of his pitches when it’s 3-0. That’s what makes him so hard to hit. He has so much guts, grit — whatever you want to call it — and he thrives on that.”
Burkhart only gave up three hits and struck out nine Genoa batters. The four-run cushion proved to be enough for the Eagles, who play Edison at noon Saturday.
The Chargers advanced with a 3-1 win over Margaretta in Thursday’s nightcap to set up a No. 1 versus No. 2 showdown with a regional berth at stake.
The Comets left 10 men on base.
“I was hoping to get an extra (fifth run) on that safety squeeze, but that didn’t quite work out,” Gorbett said. “You play good teams and you need to squeeze runs here and there.”
He understood Genoa’s reluctance to pitch to Hamilton. He is the District 9 co-Player of the Year who came into the game hitting a robust .463.
“Cade is such a disciplined hitter. He’s got 30-some walks. If you don’t throw him a strike, he’s gonna be on first and probably steal second so that’s like a double.”
Hamilton’s fielding from shortstop also is stellar.
“Speaking of Cade, was that a great catch by the fence? That was an outstanding play. Getting that first out of the last inning is so important,” Gorbett said.
Gorbett said his team needs to improve in the district finals.
“I guess our adjustment would be not having errors, not swinging at bad pitches…things like that. These guys are competitors and they love to have fun too. Come crunch time, I’m glad they’re there.”
After missing last spring due to Covid-19, Colonel Crawford graduated seven seniors and the team returned “with a big chip on our shoulders. We have a lot in stock and not everything shows every game,” Feichtner said.