By: TRIB-LIVEThursday, April 15, 2021,
Heading into this season, Fox Chapel baseball coach Jim Hastings wasn’t sure how his roster would shape up after a year off due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He only had one player returning with varsity experience, but he knew that he had a few players with talent and he had a ton of confidence in them.
Through Fox Chapel’s first seven games, Hastings has found out that his team is both talented and resilient.
The young team started with a matchup against Trib HSSN Class 6A No. 5 Seneca Valley and lost in a close 1-0 game. Even though they came away with a loss, Hastings said it was a perfect way to get the season started.
“I thought it was really good for us and then go right into section because you couldn’t ask for a better team to play or a better kind of game to play to get focused for section,” Hastings said.
The Foxes (4-3, 2-1) really found out who they were after their first section matchup against Mars. They were up 3-1 heading into the fifth inning and made a few mistakes that allowed the Fightin’ Planets to take a lead and win the game.
Fox Chapel responded the next night, though. Junior pitcher Jacob Patterson took the mound and threw six innings of three-hit ball while striking out nine as his team bounced back for a 9-4 victory.
“That showed me a lot about our mental makeup and the type of kids we have,” Hastings said. “They aren’t going to back down, and they are going to come ready to play.”
It was a win in more ways than one. Patterson believes it also gave the team a sense of confidence moving forward.
“When we beat them, we knew that we were better than we thought we were,” Patterson said. “We knew that it was going to be a tough game against Mars, and we turned around to beat them by five runs. So, we knew that it was going to be good from there.”
Since that win, the Foxes have won three of their past four games, and Patterson has been a key part of the production. Hastings said he’s hitting over .500, and he’s been one of the main producers on the mound.
Thomas Koch, Luke Hudic and Dante DiMatteo have come up big as well for the Foxes. In their first matchup against Penn Hills on Monday, DiMatteo threw 5⅔ innings of one-hit ball and struck out 12. The Foxes scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth and held on for a 2-1 victory.
Patterson took the ball the next game and scattered three hits over 6⅔ innings while striking out seven in another section win.
“That’s all we have to do. We know that those are the games where we can’t get down on ourselves or get down on each other,” Patterson said. “We have to pick each other up every time someone makes a mistake in the field or in the box. If we have a lead, we have to hold onto it and just put more on it. Put our foot on the pedal.”
After finding their rhythm this past week, the Foxes will have an even bigger week ahead of them with four section matchups looming. The Foxes will play two games against Hampton and two against Woodland Hills.
“We’re comfortable with where we are, but we have a big week next week,” Hastings said. “We’re going to go how we always go though; we’ll work Monday and Tuesday, see who’s available for the end of the week and go from there. But, it’s a big week for us.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter