First Posted: 5/19/2009
FAIRMONT The Fairmont baseball team has lots of swagger.
Winners of nine straight, the Golden Tornadoes have rolled through every opponent since early April.
Now, armed with its first home playoff win in at least 15 years, Fairmont is eyeing a state championship.
The Golden Tornadoes will host Whiteville (13-9) in the second round of the state 2-A playoffs tonight.
First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
Fairmont’s new-found confidence was on full display Friday night, during the team’s 9-5 win over East Duplin.
Fairmont trailed 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning.
But in the bottom of the first, the Golden Tornado offense, led by Colton Barnhill and Justin Britt surged ahead and never trailed again.
“We gave up three runs in the first and we haven’t given up three runs since March 17,” Fairmont coach Sandy Thorndyke said. “To give up that many runs in one inning I was a little worried. But the guys fought back. That’s just the character of those guys. They aren’t going to quit.”
Whiteville is the No. 2 seed from the Waccamaw Conference.
“They’re going to be pretty fundamentally sound,” Thorndyke said. “We’re going to have to play to win. We can’t go out there and make a bunch of mistakes.”
Justin Britt (3-0) will get the start for Fairmont. With Britt starting,
Michael Bass will move back to shortstop, which Thorndyke said makes Fairmont a stronger defensive team.
“I think he is relishing this opportunity,” said Thorndyke of Britt. “He hasn’t been on the mound in about a week or two. I think he’s going to be ready.”
Said Britt: “I’m a little bit nervous, but that all settle down when the game starts. Right now, this is probably the biggest game I’ve ever started.”
It’s been a trying week for Britt.
Eight days ago, his mother, Ginger, was trapped under debris after a tornado struck Robeson County.
Her condition continues to improve, and Britt hopes his mother can attend tonight’s game.
“It was pretty tough with my mom not being there on Friday,” Britt said.
“Hopefully, she’ll be here tomorrow. I’m not sure yet, I’m just kind of hoping.”
Fairmont’s first-round game against East Duplin drew the Golden Tornadoes’ largest crowd of the year.
Thorndyke is looking for similar results tonight.
“The other night was a Friday night and we’re hoping to have that many back tonight,” he said. “I know Whiteville will bring a crowd. I think it does mean something to our kids when they hear the crowd cheering, and we’d like
to have that community support every night.”
Britt says tonight’s game is the culmination of a goal set last May.
“We’re real excited,” he said. “Last year we made it to the first round and lost. Our goal this year was to make it to the second round. If we play up to our potential and work like a team I think we can go a long way.”