Fredericktown baseball

The Fredericktown Freddies pose with the 2022 Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference championship plaque after defeating Mount Gilead to clinch the conference title outright on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. KMAC Commissioner Barry Wolf presented the team with the trophy after the game. Fredericktown has now won at least a share of all four KMAC baseball titles.

FREDERICKTOWN -- Fredericktown had to share its first three Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference titles.

The Freddies and the Highland Fighting Scots finished with identical conference records in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic), splitting the KMAC baseball crown three years straight.

But this year's title? The boys in red and gray will have it all to themselves.

Fredericktown (15-4, 11-1 KMAC) blew past Mount Gilead (4-14, 1-11) on Tuesday, 7-3, to capture the conference championship outright.

The Freddies had already clinched a share of their fourth straight KMAC title last week, splitting the season series with second-place Centerburg (17-3, 10-2), but needed to beat Mount Gilead in their final conference game to finish alone atop the standings (Centerburg would have clinched a share with a Mount Gilead win).

Behind lights-out pitching from junior Kaid Carpenter and steady hitting up and down the order, Fredericktown did just that.

"It’s awesome to get that so many years in a row – to be able to hold that (for) our program," senior right fielder Trevor Jobes said afterwards. "We’ll just keep fighting for the district and hopefully make a run."

HOW IT UNFOLDED: The game played Tuesday was a continuation of one that began April 19. Fredericktown and Mount Gilead were tied 3-3 in fourth inning when rain began to fall, forcing the game to be rescheduled.

Junior Ben Mast had begun the game on the mound for Fredericktown, surrendering three runs on six hits, while striking out four batters and walking one in the four innings played April 19.

But when Tuesday rolled around, Fredericktown head coach Ryan Hathaway said he felt compelled to start Carpenter, the team's ace and one of the area's top pitchers, in order to finish the job.

"With it being a short game, we thought this was our most important game right now, and we’ll put our best guy out there and just seal up the KMAC," Hathaway said.

"Because we knew we were gonna get (Mount Gilead ace pitcher Carter Kennon) from them, who’s a first-team (all-conference) guy for sure. So we just had to go one-versus-one there tonight."

Carpenter met the moment on Tuesday.

He surrendered one hit in the game's final three innings, striking out four batters and walking one. He was efficient on the hill, retiring nine batters on 33 pitches and using a combination of speed and finesse to baffle the visiting Indians.

Fredericktown sealed the deal offensively with several big plays.

After leaving a runner stranded on third in the bottom of the fourth, the Freddies took the lead during a two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth. Junior Daichi Yamazaki hit a bases-loaded single to right field, scoring junior Braden Sapp from third and giving Fredericktown a 4-3 advantage. 

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Then, moments later, junior Nick Mitchell rocketed a hit to the center-field fence, clearing the bases and widening the margin to 7-3.

Fredericktown baseball

Fredericktown junior Kaid Carpenter (1) fist-bumps senior Alex Selby (2) and sophomore Korbin McGowan (12) after scoring in the bottom of the fifth inning on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

SENIOR NIGHT WIN: Tuesday marked Fredericktown's last regular-season home game. The Freddies will travel to River Valley on Thursday, Westerville North on Friday and Highland on Monday before beginning tournament play at home on May 19.

They honored their two seniors, Jobes and second baseman Alex Selby, before the victory. The duo boasts a combined five years of varsity experience, and Hathaway praised them for their leadership and dedication to the program.

"As far as just being our leaders this season and setting a good example with these guys, as far as how hard they’ve worked – that’s the biggest thing, I think, with those two guys," Hathaway said.

"They’re always here, and they’re always doing what we need – working hard, putting in extra work, and trying to have a good senior year."

Like those in the class before them, Jobes and Selby will graduate with three conference titles in three attempts. They were KMAC champs when they arrived, and they'll leave with the same distinction.

"It’s just kind of a family," said Jobes, when asked about playing in the program for four years. "We play as hard as we can every pitch. (We) just get the job done."

LOOKING AHEAD: Even without Highland in the KMAC this year (the Scots have moved to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference), Hathaway said he felt the league was "just as tough."

Four of the conference's seven teams were ranked statewide at one point, including Fredericktown, Centerburg and Northmor in Division III and East Knox in Division IV.

"It came down to the final game for us, and we’ve been in that position a couple of times now, and it is good to get that outright, not having Highland now. …" Hathaway said.

"It was nice to have this sort of atmosphere coming into your last game – especially being this close to the tournament, having that tournament-style feel the last couple games is fun for us."

Fredericktown will now shift its focus to the tournament, where a brutal bracket awaits. The Division III Central District contains three of the state's top 15 teams, including second-ranked Liberty Union and eighth-ranked Centerburg (the Freddies are currently ranked 12th).

Worthington Christian and Amanda Clearcreek, who are also in the Division III Central District, are not ranked in the top 20 but are receiving votes.

The Freddies, seeded second in the district, will face the winner of 16-seed Madison Plains and 17-seed Northridge in the first round next Thursday. A win could set up a showdown against fifth-seeded Worthington Christian in the district semifinals.

But Hathaway said his team will need to take things one step at a time in order to make a run. Fredericktown has won four straight district titles, and Hathaway believes this year might be the program's toughest path yet.

"It’s just gonna be one game at a time. We knew it was gonna be a loaded bracket, with everybody going away from (top-seeded) Liberty Union. ... Like we told them before, this is gonna be the toughest year to win it for us. So we just have to try to find a way to show up, and all that matters is finding a way to get a win," Hathaway said.

"It’s gonna be tough. Worthington Christian’s gonna be good – gotta get through Northridge or Madison Plains first, obviously. But to play a (five-seed) right there in the district semifinals and then have to see somebody like Amanda-Clearcreek or Centerburg or Columbus Academy, or whoever it is, come out of that side, it’s just gonna take us playing really good baseball."

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Staff Reporter

Grant is a 2018 graduate of Ohio Northern University, where he studied journalism and played basketball. He likes coffee, books and minor league baseball. He loves telling stories and has a passion for local news.