Members of the Franklin baseball team have approximately nine months to dissect every aspect of the big inning that wasn’t.
The process basically began early Friday evening the instant Franklin Central recorded the final out in a 3-0 victory against the Cubs in a first-round game at the Class 4A sectional at Franklin.
Franklin Central, which took the field sporting a record of 7-18, rode five-hit pitching by sophomore Cade Fitzpatrick to advance to Monday’s semifinal game against Whiteland.
The Flashes-Warriors matchup is an 11 a.m. start, while the second game between Greenwood and Martinsville begins at 2 p.m.
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Franklin coach Ryan Feyerabend, whose squad finished the season with an 11-13 record, said in no way did the Grizzly Cubs overlook the Flashes based on the latter’s won-loss record.
“We were kind of in this spot last year with Franklin Central where our record wasn’t great and their record wasn’t necessarily great. But with the right guy on the mound, it’s a completely different team,” Feyerabend said.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us from the get-go. We weren’t looking past those folks. Not at all.”
Trailing 3-0 entering the top of the fourth inning, Franklin mustered its biggest threat of the game, only to come up empty.
Sophomore pitcher Luke Miles, who hits second, led off with a walk. Junior catcher Alec MacLennan hit into a fielder’s choice before another walk put runners at first and second base.
Senior Jacob Heuchan’s base hit to right field loaded the bases, but the Cubs’ momentum ended there as Franklin hit into a double play.
The Grizzly Cubs put runners on first and second in the top of the sixth and on second and third in the seventh but still couldn’t get a runner to home plate.
Fitzpatrick pitched a complete game for the Flashes, walking three and striking out four. Miles walked two and struck out one for Franklin.
Franklin Central coach John Rockey was comfortable putting Fitzpatrick on the mound.
“He has been sharp the last couple of weeks. He shut out Columbus North in a complete game and went six shutout innings with Perry Meridian,” Rockey said. “He’s been our top pitcher.
“We knew Cade had the ability to beat them today. Overall, a great performance.”
Though it can be difficult to look at the season as a whole mere minutes after playing one’s final game of the season, Feyerabend couldn’t help but to be proud of the way Franklin responded after losing eight of its first 10 games.
In those losses, the Grizzly Cubs were outscored by a total of 55-7.
Nonetheless, they regrouped and went on to post an 8-4 record in the Mid-State Conference, tying Martinsville for the league title.
“Returning back from last year, we didn’t have one kid who had thrown a conference inning,” Feyerabend said. “We were reeling there, but we found a few pieces and we asked a lot of our guys to pitch, play shortstop, move around, catch and do all these kind of things.
“And the kids responded well. It’s a great, great group, and we’re going to miss the seniors. We’ve got some holes to fill, but we’ll get back to work and get ready for next season.”