By Brad Morris
If a definition of a pitchers’ duel would ever be needed for the encyclopedia, look no further than the battle Tuesday between Teays Valley senior Matt Farmer and Grove City senior Zak Sigman in a Division I Central District semifinal.
The two standouts threw up zeroes through six-and-a-half innings before the host Greyhounds broke the stalemate with a run in their final at-bat to walk-off with a 1-0 win.
Grady Speegle led off the home seventh for the Greyhounds by lining a single to center and was sacrificed over to second by Nathan Ysseldyke.
Following an intentional walk to Conor Hix, Andrew Garner singled to center on a 1-1 offering to knock in Speegle with the lone run of a district semifinal.
Farmer, a Marietta signee, worked six and one-third innings in the tough loss, scattering eight hits and an earned run. He walked a batter and struck out three in finishing the season with a sparkling 9-3 record with a miniscule 0.589 ERA, which is a single-season program record.
“Matt came off the field during the second and said these hitters were tough outs, which is the expectation when you play Grove City,” Teays Valley coach Mark Colburn said. “Grove City is known for going the other way, being fundamentally sound and really putting together great at-bats.
“Matt, like he has done all season, was just spectacular with taking that challenge and running with it, making big pitches, getting out of a couple of jams and using his solid defense behind him.”
Colburn had assistant coach Chris Wooten give Farmer a pregame talk and some motivation for when he toed the rubber.
“Coach Wooten talked to Matt about how the guys he was going to face today will be like the normal routine when he gets to Marietta and that this start was a good way to take the first step to hopefully contributing as a freshman when Matt gets to Marietta,” Colburn said. “First and foremost, though, this was a big start and a big game for our program and a launching pad to show the type of baseball we play and show central Ohio that we are ready to compete in the Ohio Capital Conference.”
The Vikings advanced a runner into scoring position twice against Sigman, in the second and sixth innings.
Farmer led off the second by lining a single to left and eventually advanced to third on a sacrifice by Trevor Hamilton and a ground out to second base from Landen McFarland. Sigman struck out the next batter on four pitches to leave Farmer stranded 90 feet from home plate.
Hayden Wells reached on an error by the third baseman to open the sixth and was sacrificed over to second by Jeremiah Fabbro. After an intentional walk to Landon Vandegrift, Sigman coaxed a pair of fly outs to center and left to strand Wells.
“We had a couple of chances to score, but unfortunately we were one hit or one break away from taking the lead and putting some pressure on Grove City with them being the three-seed,” Colburn said.
Farmer, McFarland, Vandegrift and Wells each singled for the No. 16 seeded Vikings.
Sigman, who has a Division I offer, allowed four hits, issued a pair of walks and struck out eight in a complete game win for the third-seeded Greyhounds (19-10), who advance to a district final on Thursday against Bishop Watterson.
The Vikings (17-8) finished second this season in the Mid-State League Buckeye Division and upset eighth-seeded Lancaster 5-2 in a 13-inning classic that took two days to complete in advancing to their first district semifinal since 2015.
Teays Valley loses Farmer, McFarland, Wells, Ben France, Ivan Smith, Jake Reese and Colby Morrison to graduation.
“We’ve always had talented players at Teays Valley, but what stood out about this team and the way our senior class led was the grittiness that these guys played way,” Colburn said. “They enjoyed playing baseball, they enjoyed being around each other and they fed off the success each other had.
“We had some guys who entered the season, like Hayden Wells and Ivan Smith, with minimum varsity experience and excelled. You could tell the players that really bought into the offseason program and went the extra mile, guys like Landen McFarland and Matt Farmer, who had that hard work pay off during the season. This team is a good example to the younger players returning and coming through the program about what hard work can do for you.”