Washington Evening Journal
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FAIRFIELD — Two completely different baseball games were played in a Southeast Conference battle between Washington and Fairfield Thursday.
Washington took a 4-0 lead in the opener, only to lose 5-4 after a solo home run by Bradley Smithburg got the Trojans on the board, a Nate Smithburg 3-run home run tied it and his single in the seventh inning was a walk-off winner for Fairfield.
Zeke Slagel crafted a 10-strikeout, one walk, one-hitter over five innings to win the second game for Washington 14-0. Of course, the one hit was Nate Smithburg’s.
“Coach always says to be a bull on the mound and challenge hitters,” Slagel said. “My fastball was working, and I locked myself in. I didn’t know I had 10 Ks. That is a real confidence booster.”
“That’s the Zeke we have been wanting to see,” Washington coach Nathan Miller said. “That’s the Zeke we need going into the postseason.”
Ethan Zieglowsky went the distance for the Demons in the loss. He did not give up a walk, struck out five and scattered 10 hits.
“He did a tremendous job, and if there are two pitches he could have back, he would not have left the ball down the middle,” Miller said. “The thing that got us was we had so many runners in scoring position, and we did not score.”
Fairfield coach Josh Allison called the win a character builder. Nate Woodburn’s 12-pitch at bat was a turning point for the Trojans.
“We had gone dead and then he had that great battle that brought everyone together,” Allison said.
Brad Smithburg’s fourth-inning homer was just the team’s second of the year. Nate Smithburg’s was the third.
“Nate took a team approach to that seventh-inning at bat and didn’t try to do too much,” Allison said of the game-winning single that was perfectly placed over the shortstop and short of the left fielder.
“The pitch was up just like the one earlier, so I punched it the other way, and it worked out just perfect,” Nate Smithburg said. “As a team, we have struggled lately so getting this win is big. I have a lot of confidence in my team for the postseason.”
Fairfield (8-15) is 6-10 in the league while Washington (14-9) is 9-8.