It took 21 runs and over 24 hours to complete, but by the end of Friday night, Franklin County was staring at its first baseball loss of the season.

The Wildcats and visiting East Central started the contest Thursday evening, with the home team getting out to a commanding 8-1 lead after two innings. The Trojans got two back in their half of the third. In the bottom of the frame, leadoff Hunter Geis beat out an infield single to shortstop. Joe Fields stepped in to bat but lightning in the area caused a mandatory 30-minute break. The rains brought some puddling on the infield, so the teams decided to try again Friday.

A pair of lightning delays made Friday's start time around 6:20 p.m. before Fields settled back in against Tyler Dickerson. The EC righty got Fields on a flyball to center and Geis was thrown out on a steal attempt. Dickerson fanned Austin Short to end the inning.

EC got back into the game in the fourth, putting three more runs on the board. Senior Brady Brandenburg opened on the mound for FC after Fields threw three innings Thursday. The former was greeted by a walk and a fielder's choice that failed to nab the lead runner. Sophomore Eli Aston started a tremendous night with a double down the left-field line to score two. He would score on Reid Cleary's fielder's choice to make it 8-6. Brandenburg stranded two with a flyball to left and a punchout.

FC went down in order in the bottom of four. Ryan Bond got the Trojans going again when the fifth came around, sending a hit into left. Brandenburg retired the next two batters before Aston cranked a two-run homer over the fence in left to tie the game. Wildcat coach Derek Stang then pulled his pitcher in favor of righty Conner Roleson.

Roleson's first batter, Derek Richter, reached first – then second - on a throwing error. Cleary sent EC ahead 9-8 with a base hit into center. A roller to second left two more on for the guests.

A one-out rally flip-flopped the lead in the bottom of the fifth. No. 9 hitter Dominic Reeves laid down a perfect bunt for a single and advanced a base on a wild pitch. Geis sliced a ball into right field to send Reeves home with the tying run. Fields pulled a double into right as Geis was held at third; he'd score the go-ahead run on a groundout by Brant Ertel.

EC put its leadoff hitter on for a third straight time in the top of six; Luke Moorman drew a base on balls. Roleson earned two straight outs as Moorman stole second. Pinch-hitter Luke Vogelgesang knotted things at 10 with a double to right, bringing up Aston. The No. 9 hitter stroked his third consecutive extra-base hit, his double to center plating courtesy runner Carson Koelling. Garrett Ertel relieved and got Richter to fly out to right.
The Cats were out quietly in the sixth. In the top of seven, EC put together three hits but failed to add to the lead.

Lefty Sam Huston came on for EC, looking for a save and starting with back-to-back strikeouts. But Fields walked and B. Ertel singled to left. Short was retired on a comebacker as EC won 11-10.

After an RBI single for Moorman in the first, FC started feasting on righty Daniel Brayton. A walk to Short loaded the bases and Chase Burton walked to tie the game at 1. Another walk to Garrison Siedling made it 2-1. An error and fielder's choice led to a 4-1 lead.

Geis started another rally in the second with a hit to left. He was on third when B. Ertel tapped one to the mound; Brayton had Geis hung out to dry before turning and throwing to first, with Geis scoring. Short singled and Burton walked to load the bases off Dickerson. Siedling brought in two with a single to right and Remy Watters made it 8-1 with a base hit.

An RBI double by Ryan Bovard and run-scoring single for Moorman got EC closer in the third.

FC (5-1) is at Connersville Thursday.

At East Central (April 5)
The 2021 Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference opener for FC went down to the wire last week in St. Leon. An extra inning was needed to decide the outcome.

Neither Seth Risley nor B. Ertel were scored upon as FC came to bat in the fourth inning of a scoreless tie. Each starter then gave up two runs. Ertel would allow the Trojans to move ahead in the bottom of four before older brother Garrett got out of the jam.

The Wildcats countered with two runs in the top of six off Bond to make it a 4-3 ball game. EC, though, would force extra innings by getting to G. Ertel for one in the seventh. A 3-run top of the eighth made Ertel's job a bit easier when the hosts batted in the bottom of eight. But East Central pushed one across to make it 7-5 and had runners at second and third; Ertel kept them there by getting the next batter.

B. Ertel struck out 8 Trojans in just over four innings of work. Garrett fanned 5 the rest of the way. Watters led the offense with 3 hits and 3 knocked in. Brant Ertel added 2 hits, including a double and RBI. Geis, Fields and Garrett Ertel were also run producers.

The Bonds – Ryan and Sam - and Griffin Werner each doubled for EC and Ryan Bond was the losing pitcher in relief. Risley and Bond totaled 12 strikeouts.

Vs. Connersville (April 12)

FC bounced back for a 9-3 home conference win over Connersville Monday. The Cats scored in each of the first four frames to take an 8-2 lead.
Fields was the winning pitcher and Gavin Lynch was hung with the loss.