LUTZ- The Steinbrenner Warriors (7-5, 4-1) looked to keep their place on the throne of district 7A by playing district rival, the Sickles Gryphons (5-8, 2-2) with the help of star pitcher, Ryan Fatzinger on the rubber at home Friday night.
And in complete game fashion in a final score of 4-2 in the Warriors favor, keep the throne they did with the help of some strong early offense and a couple big defensive plays.
The Gryphons, beat earlier on in the season by the Warriors, 2-0, came looking for revenge but quickly fell victim to a fast paced offense led by left fielder, Brandon Johnson who started off with a shot to center field taking first base. Then hot streak hitter and the pitcher, Fatzinger came up to the plate advancing Johnson to second and reaching first safely on a bunt turned error putting runners in scoring position with no outs. And then the hero of their most recent victory against Alonso, right fielder Drew Burkhart came up, driving in Johnson off a double to right.
And so the damage continued with Fatzinger scoring on a hit by second baseman Colby Burchardt which led to runners on the corners. Burchardt attempted to steal second, purposely stopping in the middle of first and second hoping to get the attention of a distracted Sickles defense. Not remembering Burkhart was on third, the Gryphons threw the ball to second, with Burchardt making it safely to second after Burkhart ran home. William Darnall would later come up in the inning and drive in Burchardt for the last run the Warriors would see on offense.
“We needed that district win and we got it. We are 4-1 and I think we have a good chance of going far this year. We need to execute well and make sure we are putting down those bunts and having good hit and runs,” said Burchardt.
And from there on it would be Fatzinger leading the Warriors. With the only runs coming off a solo homerun off the left field Pepsi scoreboard and a lone run resulting off a very controversial single down the first base line, approximately 95 pitches later, he walked out with his second complete game victory of the season. Fatzinger struck out two, walked two, and allowed five hits throughout the night.
“We had a great first inning. Just like the Alonso game, we executed well and we got four runs in the first. It’s great to be 4-1 in districts but I would love to be 5-0,” said Fatzinger.
The Warriors will travel to Wiregrass Ranch high school on Tuesday the 24th for another district matchup and will hope to become that much closer to clinching the first place district seed.
Written by Evan Abramson/Online Sports Editor