Eagles no-hit Crusaders, improve their record to 9-4

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by Mason Raven
Eagle Staff

Twenty-two state championships distinguish the Eagle baseball program among the most prolific and dominant programs in the Houston area.

Year after year, the Eagles persevere through a tough schedule that tests both their endurance and heart for the game. Almost every year it seems like, they come out on top as state champions.

This year may prove no different.

So far, the Eagles have three division one signees. Catcher Hunter Kopycinski, who is a four-year letter recipient, has signed to play ball at near-by Rice University.

Filling out the top two spots in the pitching rotation are two-year letter recipient Austin Fairchild and three-year letter recipient Brian Schwarzbach; Fairchild has signed with Texas Christian University, while Schwarbach has signed to continue his pitching career with the University of Pennsylvania.

The Eagles opened up their season on February 21 with a 3-0 victory against Texas City. Starting pitcher Austin Fairchild pitched a complete game, two hit, shutout while all accumulating 13 strikeouts. There were a handful of major league scouts on hand to watch the potential first to third round Major League Baseball draft pick. They consistently clocked him at 91 to 93 miles per hour and topped out at 95 miles per hour.

The offense was driven by a line-drive homerun by junior right fielder Ryan Olive and an RBI single from both junior, third baseman Thorn Cowley and first baseman Greg Hoffman. Hoffman, who was making his first varsity start, proved to be an impenetrable wall at first base literally taking baseballs off the chest and sacrificing his body for the well-being of the team.

“Those balls were hit pretty hard, and I figured if I wasn’t able to stop it with my glove then my chest would be there to stop it,” Hoffman said. “I was just doing my job and I wasn’t concerned with how I got it done. I just wanted to make the plays.”

Focus and attentiveness was one of the key factors in the result of the game.

“We came into that game very focused”, Hoffman said. “We came ready to play.”

Later that week, the varsity squad ventured to the Woodlands to play in the Oak Ridge Tournament.

They opened up with a 9 to 5 win against Channelview. Schwarzbach led the pitching staff with 6 innings pitched, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits. During the evening hours, they faced an under-estimated New Caney squad but fought off a late rally to win 5 to 2.

Sophomore Michael Rodgers led the Eagles on the mound going 5 innings, giving up one run. Senior Jonathan Oggero came in relief going 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts, and then junior Matthew Brown came in to get the final two outs.

After having an exhausting day of baseball the day prior, the Eagles faced talented Huffman in a twilight game that featured three division one players on the field, excluding Schwarzbach and Fairchild who were not available to pitch. The Eagles never let up in the game which yielded a decisive 10 to 2 victory. Junior left-hander Devin Bear started for the Eagles going four innings, yielding one earned run. The last two innings were occupied by junior Josh Podlin, who came in relief, only yielding one earned run.

Earlier in the week of February 28, the Eagles faced the archrival Strake Jesuit at Father Wilson Baseball Field. The 2-1 victory proved unforgettable. Fairchild, Oggero and Dusty Dworak combined to throw a one run, no-hitter against the much improved Crusader team. Dworak showed his resilience and charisma shutting down the last two Crusader hitters with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning.

During spring break, the Eagles faced the Kingwood Mustangs. The Mustangs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. They then extended the lead to seven after scoring five runs in the third inning. Although the Eagles fought hard, the Kingwood offense proved to be too much in a 7-0 loss.

With an 9 and 4 record, the Eagles look ahead to the up-coming year with much optimism and determination that another state championship will remain in their grasps, which would be their fifth in the past six years and third in a row.

“We are getting better as time goes on,” coach Craig Biggio said. “This year with the bats, we are transitioning from an offensive team to a defensive and pitching orientated team.”

 

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