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 experience 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 outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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The April winds howled and senior Matt Siefring threw another gem.  St. Henry beat St. John on a day better for flying kites, than baseball.

Delphos – John Dorner loves his kids, obviously.

When he talks about them, their accomplishments, it’s nothing short of near-paternal admiration for their commitment and achievement.  And those were the terms with which he spoke Thursday following senior Matt Siefring’s latest pitching gem, a 2-0, 4-hit shutout over the Delphos St. John Blue Jays.

On a day fit more for flying kites than playing baseball, Siefring went through the Delphos lineup like Grant took Richmond, striking out seven, walking none, and giving up just four hits…two of which came back-to-back to lead off the Blue Jays’ fourth inning.  But after a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base with one out, Siefring left them there.  It turned out to be the only serious Delphos threat of the game.

Nasty day…horrible weather…as the winds howled in gusts up to 30 mile per hour, creating dust swirls from the skinned infield at Delphos, one of the few remaining without grass in high school baseball.  The temperatures dropped into the high 50s, and dark clouds occasionally shrouded the sun’s effort to warm up those brave enough to watch.  It didn’t bother Siefring a bit.  In fact, it might have served as motivation.

“It’s not his first great game,”  said Dorner afterwards, after an hour and forty two minutes and 86 pitches by his senior starter.

“Actually, he’s had a 1-hitter this season, a no-hitter his last game against New Knoxville, and a four-hitter today – and I think St. John is one of the best hitting teams in the league.”

Delphos, a team that knows something about playing games with little wiggle room – they beat Fort Recovery in ten innings three weeks ago, a game where neither team was credited with a base hit – simply could not make good contact with the assortment that Siefring offered.  Fastball, breaking pitch, and a devastating change, he had the Blue Jays guessing all day…and lunging after that sinister change of speed.

“He’s just a veteran senior pitcher, a quiet kid that goes out there and throws strikes,”  said Dorner.  “He seldom, if ever, walks anyone.  Today his change-up was awesome.  Normally his breaking pitch is his out pitch, but today the change-up was deadly.  It kept them off balance because I really do think they (Delphos) are one of the best hitting teams in the league.  If you can hold them to four hits you’ve pitched a whale of a ballgame.”

Likewise, the Blue Jays’ Josh Warnicke was nearly as good, allowing just single runs in the first and the fourth on five hits surrendered for the game.

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“It wasn’t a very good day to play,”  added Dorner.  “The wind was out, it was typical Ohio spring weather.  Every once in a while the sun would come out from behind the clouds – so it was a tough hitters day.  We had far more strikeouts than we wanted to have (8), but you have to give credit to the Warnicke kid.  He pitched a great game, too.  It was a real pitchers duel today.”

It was tough enough on pitchers, too, apparently, because it didn’t take Siefring long to vacate the mound after the final pitch and seek the comfort – out of the wind – of the bus and the trip home.  He didn’t stick around to talk.

The Redskins are not likely to win the league this year, but they certainly stand in line to play spoiler to some of the favorites remaining.  And with the pitching he has, Dorner and company will definitely be a daily threat in the post-season tournament.

“The league is hard to get a handle on this year,”  he said.  “We’ve lost a couple of really close games, because the pitching throughout the league has been so good this year.  We have a lot of excellent pitchers in the MAC this year, and that’s why scores have been down, a lot of 1-0, 2-1 games, so obviously whoever wins tomorrow between Delphos and Coldwater has a good shot as winning the league.  It’s a good time for us, too, because we have a deep pitching staff.  We have eight kids we can throw and that’s good, because we’re playing five days a week right now.”

But none have been better than what Matt Siefring was Thursday, what he was last week against Knoxville, and what he’ll probably be in his next outing, as well.   Think Bronson Arroyo, who just throws strikes and changes speeds.  It seems to work at all ages…and for seniors of all sorts.

Not much offense...St. Henry scored single runs in the first and the fourth - and had little more going on after that.

Not much offense…St. Henry scored single runs in the first and the fourth – and had little more going on after that.

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