CLINTON — In a bit of a departure from the norm, Ashford University Field played host to high school baseball Wednesday, the first of three days that the Three Rivers Conference is taking over the Lumberkings’ home stadium. Fulton felt right at home, winning twice.
In the opening game, the Steamers and Riverdale matched each other inning-for-inning through the first five of a pitchers duel. Both starters, Matt Dail for Fulton and Josh Lohman for Riverdale, found their comfort zone working from the stretch and lasted through the sixth inning.
Dail has pitched that way since he began playing baseball. The strategy worked well. Both pitchers breezed through the first five innings, with Dail giving up only two hits, while Lohman did him one better, allowing one.
But the sixth inning rolled around and things started to get dicey.
Rams catcher Ruben Garza began with a sharp single, but that was erased when Garza ran himself off the base paths for the second time in the game. The threat seemed to be neutralized with two outs, but the Rams kept fighting as Jason Hoehn worked a walk, stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw from the catcher. Hoehn scored the first run of the on next pitch, which went wild.
An RBI single from Nathan Rocker plated the second run of the inning, putting Riverdale up 2-0.
The Fulton bats finally woke up in the bottom of the sixth, triggered by Dail hustling and turning a single into a double to lead off. Ethan Jones brought Dail around to score on a single and later scored on a two-run double from designated hitter Paul Velasco that gave the Steamers the 3-2 lead.
Fulton didn’t stop there, tacking on four more runs, highlighted by a perfectly placed bunt from Weston Jones and base-running trickery from Colin Tichler and Jones.