HS BASEBALL: Eagles look to finish job at state tournament

COREY STOLZENBACH | Staff File PhotoJunior Dayson Fazekas and Red Oak are three wins away from a state championship for the first time since the Fall 2017 season. 

Red Oak baseball coach Trey Booth said there must've been 700-800 people at Monday's practice — possibly the whole town.

He said the "fandemonium" has provided support as the Eagles carry their season-long No. 1 ranking into the the Class B fall baseball state tournament this week aiming for a championship.

"Our fans have been incredible," Booth said. 

Booth said Red Oak (29-7) has its best fall season club in a while and is solid at the plate.

The Eagles are batting .369 as a team, have scored 286 runs and have 14 home runs on the season. 

Booth appreciates the work ethic the team has and that they enjoy the grind. He said this Red Oak team understands the big picture and tries to get better every day.

The coach added that the team aspires to the malapropism attributed to Hall of Famer Yogi Berra about baseball being 90 percent mental and the other half physical.

Junior Austin Place, Chance Noah, Cole Nix, Dalton Patten, Dayson Fazekas, Dusty Fazekas and Preston King all are regulars in the lineup. 

Booth said they've matured, and have learned from tough losses — such as when Red Oak lost a seventh-inning lead in the spring state semifinals for a 3-2 loss to Drummond.

Noah has batted cleanup for Red Oak this season. The junior is batting .440 and paces the Eagles with five home runs and 46 RBIs. Booth said Noah is good enough to carry the team if he stays aggressive. 

He said Noah gets a lot of good pitches with Dayson Fazekas batting ahead of him and freshman Denver Hamilton behind him. 

Hamilton has gotten looks at second base this season, and Booth called him one of the better freshmen in the area. He's posted a .394 batting average with three home runs and has driven in 35. 

"He's really done a good job, and really proud of his progress," he said of Hamilton. "As he matures and develops, he's going to be one of the best we've had." 

Place has established himself as another tough out this season. He leads the Eagles with both a .533 batting average and .642 on-base percentage. 

He has walked 27 times this season, and has only struck out three times.

Booth said Place has "a lot of colleges after him."

"He'll take a pitch to get his pitch, and when he does, he doesn't miss it very often," Booth added about Place.

The coach said Red Oak needs to put pressure on people early and score first if it wants to take state. He said the Eagles must find a way to get on base and move runners.

He said the team has talked about a championship, and said they envision themselves getting it done. 

"Now it's up to us just to go get after it and go do it," Booth said. 

Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com 

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