Russia Topped Versailles, 6-3, at the Dayton Dragons Stadium on Saturday


DAYTON — It was an extremely well-played game that was almost never played.

The Russia-Versailles contest this past Saturday appeared to be on thin ice when the Dayton Dragons postponed the Friday night high school game at Day Air Ballpark, even though weather conditions were fairly dry.

At that time, Dragons officials were simply saying that “the weather is not cooperating for high school baseball” and a decision on the Tigers-Raiders contest would be made on Saturday at noon, three hours before the first pitch.

Fortunately, any large thunderstorm cells missed downtown Dayton overnight and the infield playing surface beneath the tarp was not very wet when it was pulled back late Saturday morning.

Thus, the sound of “play ball” was bellowed out at 3 p.m. Russia, the defending state champ in Division-IV, and D-III Versailles, four-time winner of the Midwest Athletic Conference, put on a show as if the two clubs already had 15 to 20 games under their belts.

Russia, now 2-0, won, 6-3, in a fine tune-up for the two programs in advance of the April and May grinds through their leagues and non-conference schedules.

The Raiders and Versailles, which is 2-2 on the season, benefited from solid pitching the majority of the game. The afternoon’s five hurlers walked a grand total of just two batters. The two teams’ defenses turned four double plays, while the offenses cranked out 20 solid base hits and executed moving runners along with four sacrifice bunts and fly balls. Only one error was committed.

This briskly completed, one-hour and forty-five minute Saturday matinee demonstrated how entertaining and efficiently played a high school baseball game can be. One Dragons official remarked that “it looked like a couple smooth operating Division-I schools going head to head.”

Russia senior pitcher Ross Fiessinger was named the Bob Ross Auto Group Most Valuable Player and the Star of the Game. The righthander hurled five innings in all, including four innings of shutout baseball, while scattering eight hits and surviving a shaky start. He allowed an earned run in the first and fifth innings. He walked only one.

Before picking up steam, Fiessinger gave up a pair of runs in his first 15 pitches. Tigers’ sophomore Ross Francis, junior AJ Griesdorn and senior Carson Griesdorn all cracked singles to start the game as Versailles came out swinging some hot bats. A Russia defensive miscue on the infield aided the first inning uprising.

However, Fiessinger then proceeded to retire nine of the next eleven Versailles batters.

At the plate, the Russia hurler became his squad’s first baserunner when he worked a base on balls to kick off the home third. Two batters later he strolled home on a long sacrifice fly by freshman catcher Cooper Unverferth. Junior Felix Francis had advanced Fiessinger to third with a towering double to the leftfield corner.

Versailles senior starter Joe Ruhenkamp clinged to a 2-1 edge when Russia hit in the fourth. But that slim margin didn’t last long.

The second time through the batting order, the Raiders locked in at the plate and squared up the offerings of Ruhenkamp with seven, well-struck base hits, including four in a row.

Russia senior Xavier Phlipot singled sharply to open the frame. Sophomore Braylon Cordonnier and junior Hayden Quinter rapped singles behind Phlipot. Three hitters later, after a sac bunt and a sac fly, Fiessinger clubbed a single and Francis barreled up his second double. Unverferth and senior Zane Shappie then smacked two more singles to close out a five-run explosion,

Versailles plated a run in the seventh off Cordonnier in relief of Fiessinger as Ross Francis and Ruhenkamp spanked base hits. Russia’s Quinter smothered a ground ball at third to get a big out and slow down the Tigers’ threat.

The Russia comeback on Saturday mirrored the team’s performances during the marvelous tournament run last May and June when the Raiders rallied to post five straight triumphs. In the state final, Russia trailed early versus Lincolnview before posting a 10-4 victory. The Raiders pounded Ohio State-bound pitcher Landon Price.

No more than 150 fans witnessed the Saturday tilt that was played while a 30 mile-an-hour wind blew across Day Air Ballpark from the northwest. Many spectators signaled to the ScoresBroadcast booth with their phones held high that they were connected to the SCORES play-by-play. These listeners were part of the nearly 3,000 who joined the online presentation throughout the day. was launched in 2006 and 2007. It covers more than 90 high school sports contests each year.

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