Senior Tyler Fairchild throws during the 2016 season.
By CHUCK LANDIS – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyler Fairchild was finally able to unleash his potential for the Oak Hill baseball team, and it was spectacular.
The senior arrived to Oak Hill in his sophomore year from South Carolina and dazzled Golden Eagles coaches during the fall with his pitching. But before he could perform in a game, he needed Tommy John Surgery in the spring and lost his sophomore season.
Fairchild didn’t fare much better last year attempting to make a comeback just 11 months after the operation. He was only able to pitch 19 1/3 innings and had a 6.88 earned-run average before experiencing more pain and was shut down until after the high school season.
As a senior, Fairchild put together one of the most incredible seasons by a Grant County high school pitcher. Over 61 innings, he didn’t allow a single earned run, which naturally made his ERA a perfect 0.00. Yorktown did score an unearned run off Fairchild, but in 10 appearances opponents had a hard time even getting on base.
Now, add his .405 batting average, five home runs and 27 RBIs, and Fairchild was a clear choice for Chronicle-Tribune Grant County Baseball Player of the Year.
“To perform at the level he did, no way you can expect that from a kid,” Oak Hill coach Shane Edwards said. “I’ve been here 13 years and it’s the best performance I’ve seen. Jake Althouse (2009 Oak Hill grad and player of the year) had a remarkable year, too, hitting over .500 and a 13-1 (pitching) record. But Tyler’s pitching was even better.”
Fairchild earned coaches District I Player of the Year honors earlier this week and would appear a lock to play in the North-South All-Star Classic later this month in Whiting, featuring Indiana’s best players. Speaking of best, Fairchild’s perfect ERA, his 28 hits and 12 walks allowed and 100 strikeouts (14.75 per nine innings) compares favorably with pitchers selected in the MLB Draft.
“Except those guys are throwing 94 to 97 miles per hour and play on elite teams,” Fairchild said. “I’m not at that their level.”
Not yet, perhaps. Fairchild heads off to the University of South Carolina-Akin at the end of July, and he hopes that adding weight and strength to his 6-foot-4, 207-pound body will elevate his high 80s fastball into the mid 90s. Then, maybe Fairchild will hear his name called by a major league team in the 2019 draft.
“That’s the hope for sure,” he said. “I’m going to work hard to get to that point.”
Edwards believed a healthy Fairchild would easily exceed last year’s pitching numbers, but the hitting was a nice bonus. A year ago, Fairchild batted .176 in 34 at bats with two doubles and four RBIs. This season, he led Eagles hitters in batting average and home runs and tied for first in doubles and RBIs.
“Last year, I didn’t hit that well and this year I hit a lot in the batting cage before the season and it worked out,” Fairchild said.
Fairchild also led all Grant County hitters in homers.
“I did not expect him to be that dominating as a pitcher or hitter,” Edwards said.
While Fairchild didn’t allow a run in nine of his 10 appearances, it was the May 18 game against Yorktown when the Tigers scored a run that convinced him that he was all the way back. In that game he allowed two hits, walked three and struck out 14 against a talented Tigers lineup.
“All my off-speed pitches I threw for strikes and my fastball had a lot of tail,” he said. “I located inside and outside. It might have been my best game. We weren’t supposed to win that game and Yorktown is a good team with three or four Division I guys.”
Led by Fairchild, Oak Hill finished 23-6 and ranked seventh in Class 2A with Central Indiana Conference and Grant Four championships. But the one title the Eagles really wanted, a sectional, eluded them when Manchester won 7-4 in the final game.
“It was disappointing especially since we had beaten Manchester (12-3) in the regular season,” he said.
Since the high school season has ended Fairchild is pitching for the Indiana Prospects travel team. Thursday, he gave up an earned run for the first time this spring but finished with seven strikeouts over five innings.
“Honestly, they shouldn’t have scored,” he said. “The right fielder took a long time getting to the ball, but he did make a good throw (to home plate). There was an error and the kid shouldn’t have been on.”
Oak Hill led the C-T’s all-county team with four total selections including Fairchild. Seniors Christian Livingston (pitcher-centerfielder) and Ryne Emery (second base) and junior Bradon Nelson (shortstop) also were named to the first team.
Mississinewa had three juniors selected: Garrison Smith (pitcher), Brandon Baker (infielder) and Nolan Young (outfield). Madison-Grant had seniors Levi Bott (catcher) and Isaac Beaty (outfield); Eastbrook had senior Justen Reece (infield) and junior Andrew Lawvere (catcher), and Marion had sophomore Tra Cox (infield) and freshman Tyras Brown (outfield).
Grant County baseball team
Pos-player, school Gr. W-L SV ERA IP ER BB SO
P – Tyler Fairchild, Oak Hill Sr. 9-0 1 0.00 61.0 0 12 100
P – Christian Livingston, Oak Hill Sr. 7-3 0 1.22 51.2 9 23 75
SP – Garrison Smith, Mississinewa Jr. 4-2 0 1.48 33.0 7 11 33
Pos.-player, school Gr. BA AB R 2B 3B HR RBI
C – Levi Bott, Madison-Grant Sr. .378 82 4 12 0 0 13
C – Andrew Lawvere, Eastbrook Jr. .333 66 7 13 0 0 8
INF – Justen Reece, Eastbrook Sr. .403 77 11 9 0 1 26
INF – Ryne Emery, Oak Hill Sr. .345 87 23 3 0 4 21
INF – Brandon Baker, Mississinewa Jr. .400 75 18 7 0 1 18
INF – Bradon Nelson, Oak Hill Jr. .318 85 20 6 1 1 27
INF – Tra Cox, Marion So. NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
OF – Isaac Beaty, Madison-Grant Sr. .378 82 11 5 1 1 14
OF – Tyras Brown, Marion Fr. NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
OF – Nolan Young, Mississinewa Jr. .394 71 31 7 2 1 11
Honorable mention: Ross DeBonis, pitcher, Eastbrook; Seth Nash, pitcher-2b, and Jacob Price, pitcher, Madison-Grant; Cade McCoin, of, Mississinewa; Caleb Maggard, 1b, Oak Hill.