Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball career as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites, and for eight years served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by Morningside Books, in Dayton, Ohio.  Widely knowledgable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the country.  Involved with a number of writing projects, he and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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If the essence of the game is indeed pitching, then hats off to pitchers Seth Guillozet and Treg Francis.  They made Thursday’s Ft. Loramie-Russia game nothing less than “essential” baseball.

Let’s not be trite.  OK?  The essence of the game of baseball is pitching.

Throw strikes.  I mean, pound the strike zone.

Get ahead.  Make the other team defensive at the plate.  Keep your defense on its toes and off the field.

And hey, if you can get through an inning on 9 pitches or less, so much the better.

May we introduce you to pitchers Seth Guillozet (Ft. Loramie) and Treg Francis (Russia), who hooked up Thursday in a pivotal Shelby County League game at Loramie…that featured 2 runs, 18 strikeouts, just 7 hits, two errors, and seven runners total left on base, combined for the two teams.

And lest you wonder…they did all this in one hour and eighteen minutes!  A 2-0 Ft. Loramie win that was so well-pitched it defied typification.

It was hardly high school for the fact of the performance by the two principles, Guillozet and Francis.  Cy Young himself would have enjoyed it.

Loramie’s win moves them to 7-3 on the season and in a three-way tie for the SCL league lead with Russia and Anna.  But really…does anyone really lose when you pitch that well?

Premium Pick-Off...With base runners being at a premium, Russia's Brandon Barlage gets tagged by Loramie's Jared Albers on a third inning pickoff.

Francis, in losing, struck out ten, allowed just four hits, and was victimized by just two scoring innings, the first and second.  After that, he cruised…shutting down the Redskins for the next four innings on just one hit, and three times retiring the side in order on nine pitches or less.

Guillozet, in winning (2-2), struck out eight, allowed just three hits, and provided his own margin of victory with a solo home run in the bottom of the first…a ringing shot down the left field line off what was perhaps the only mistake that Treg Francis made in the course of the game.

“It was a curveball,”  said Guillozet on the Press Pros Dave Arbogast Star Of The Game post-game show.  “I was looking for one and just put a good swing on it.  I had no idea it was fair or it even left the ballpark.  I just hit it and ran.”

Loramie’s other run came in the bottom of the second when they bunched a leadoff walk and a pair of singles to score, in a manner that may come to characterize the Redskins‘ offense, given their present pace.

Through their first ten games they’re not exactly pounding the ball.  Counting Guillozet’s blast Thursday they have just two home runs in their first ten games.  But “small ball” has never inhibited Bill Sturwold’s approach or attitude towards winning a baseball game.

“We haven’t hit a lot,”  he said following Thursday’s win.  “But we’re young, and we’re getting better every time out.  We’re winning on pitching and defense.”

Pausing for a moment, he added.  “And the new bats aren’t doing much for anyone this year.”

New regulations by the governing body over amateur baseball has taken a lot of the sting out of aluminum bats this year, for the fact of safety, and everyone is noticing the difference.

“It really is like hitting with a wood bat, now,”  said Sturwold.  “Seth Guillozet hit the heck out of that ball and it barely got over the fence at the foul pole.

“Russia hit at least three balls really hard and they were little more than routine outs.  The bats have made a big difference.”

That said, no one has done anything to the baseballs, and Treg Francis and Seth Guillozet literally made them unhittable with their performance Thursday.

Both featured a devastating breaking pitch that they threw for strike one, over and over, making the hitters defensive, at best.

Francis’ best innings, the third and fourth, featured four consecutive strikeouts (all on the curve).

Guillozet’s  best, arguably the fifth, sixth, and seventh, saw him throw just 24 pitches, again, featuring a sharp-breaking curve with which he painted both sides of the plate.  Impressive for a junior who competes in three sports…who barely breaks 80 miles per hour with his fastball.

“We talk about throwing strike one,”  he admitted.  “And after the first inning I began to get a better feel for the curve.  After I got my confidence I just kept throwing it.”

And pity Treg Francis, whose team’s record now stands at 5-4 on the year…his personal record, 0-3.

“It’s hard to believe,”  said Russia coach Rick Gold, returning to high school baseball this year after a ten year hiatus to coach at Wittenberg University.  “His record is 0-3 and his losses have come against Minster (the Div. IV state champion), Sidney (a Div. I school), and Ft. Loramie (Div. IV title winners in ’07 and ’10).  He’s really thrown the ball well.”

If Thursday was the overture, the opera to come in Shelby County League baseball, and  the setup for the sectional tournament,  should be worth having a balcony seat.

“This was a big win for us,” grinned Sturwold.  “Big for the league, but big for the fact of beating Russia and what that might mean to our tournament draw down the line.”

It was that good…as good as it gets in high school baseball.  You simply don’t pitch that well, that often, at any level.

On Thursday, April 12th, 2012, nobody did it better…in the majors, the minors, in college, high school…any place where pitchers pitch and batters try to make contact.  Owe that to Seth Guillozet and Treg Francis.

Wonderful to win.  Hard to lose.  Impressive, if you didn’t care who won.

They were simply better…than best!

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