By his own estimation, Fairview first baseman Steven D’Epagnier has spent much of his baseball life either playing against or with Ryan Madden.
D’Epagnier, like the rest of the Knights, finds it far preferable to play alongside Madden, who showcased the full gamut of his impressive skills Saturday afternoon.
Working out of multiple bases-loaded jams and providing the big blast offensively with a solo home run, Madden carried the Knights to a 2-0 win against Regis Jesuit in a non-league battle between teams ranked in the top four of the latest Class 5A state AP media poll.
Fourth-ranked Fairview improved to 3-0 on the young season and will take a huge momentum boost into a four-game spring break trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Despite a stellar game on the mound from Rice recruit Brent Schwarz, No. 1-ranked Regis fell to 2-3.
“He’s so much fun to play behind,” D’Epagnier said. “He works really quick. People don’t really think about that, but it keeps you in the game. We don’t wait around for him to throw. He gets up and he goes.
“I’ve played with or against him my entire life, and he gets better every year. That’s why he’s so good.”
Madden and Schwarz were locked in a classic pitcher’s duel when the Fairview senior appeared doomed to be the first to falter in the top of the fourth. Regis opened the frame with consecutive singles and loaded the bases with no outs after the Knights were unable to corral a sacrifice bunt attempt.
Madden, though, didn’t falter, getting the Raiders to foul off a pair suicide bunt attempts before striking out the bottom third of the Regis lineup consecutively to end the threat.
Overflowing with adrenaline, Madden led off the bottom of the fourth and connected on Schwarz’s second offering for a blast that skimmed over the top of the right field wall, breaking the scoreless tie with a solo home run.
“At that point, you’re ready to take whatever out they’ll give you, but a strikeout is always good,” Madden said. “The only thing you can control is hitting your spots. I just carried the momentum right into (the home run), so that was good.”
Madden also escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth before polishing off six of the final eight Regis hitters over the final two innings to earn the shutout. Madden finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk, and he has yet to allow a run through 12 innings on the mound.
D’Epagnier delivered a clutch insurance run with an RBI single in the top of the sixth. Schwarz finished with 10 strikeouts in five innings for Regis.
“Just the fact that we had a little bit of adversity when it was 0-0 — bases loaded, no outs — (Madden) led the way with being so laser-focused right there,” Fairview coach Rick Harig said. “He’s just a grinder. He refuses to lose, that’s probably the best way to describe him. It’s a mental skill to be strong at the end of a game when you’re tired.”
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Fairview 2, Regis Jesuit 0
At Fairview HS
Regis 000 000 0 — 0 7 3
Fairview 000 101 x — 2 5 3
W — Ryan Madden. L — Brent Schwarz.
Regis Jesuit hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Geoff Kice 4-0-1-0, Austin Chouinard 4-0-1-0, Aiden Cameron 4-0-0-0, Quin Cotton 4-0-2-0, Matt Schmidt 3-0-1-0, Nick Spiliotis 2-0-0-0, Travis Marr 3-0-1-0, Ryan Vottiero 3-0-1-0, Trevor Doerr 3-0-0-0. Totals 30-0-7-0. SB — Kice, Cotton.
Fairview hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Johnny Feauto 3-0-2-0, Walker Harris 2-0-0-0, Tim Ryan 3-0-0-0, Ryan Madden 2-1-1-1, Sam McGill 0-1-0-0, Jake Thoning 3-0-0-0, Steve D’Epagnier 3-0-2-1, Tobiah Armstrong 3-0-0-0, Tyler Carpenter 2-0-0-0, Stone Streeter 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-2-5-2. HR — Madden. SB — Harris, Armstrong.
Regis Jesuit pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Brent Schwarz 5-4-1-1-1-10; Bo Weiss 1-1-1-0-1-2.
Fairview pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ryan Madden 7-7-0-0-1-7.