Former Indian, Moorehead State Catcher Hunter Fain Experiences First Conference Championship; Reflects on High School Baseball

By Julie Perine on June 10, 2018 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

When the Bridgeport High School Indians claimed their fifth consecutive West Virginia Class AA baseball title, Hunter Fain was keeping tabs from the NCAA Clemson Regional in Clemson, S.C. Having just captured the conference championship, Moorehead State – for whom Fain has played catcher for the past three years – had advanced to regional play.
 
The Eagles’ game against Clemson had gone much like the Indians’ at Charleston’s Laidley Field with more than an hour and a half in delays due to rain.
 
Fain, who had led the Indians in hitting during his four years at BHS, wasn’t on the winning team of the June 2 game; the opening contest of the tournament. Though the Eagles lost, the game still proved to be one of Fain’s most memorable experiences on the field.
 
“It was electric. There were 6,000 people there and we got up in the game early 2-0, then their first baseman/right fielder – Seth Beer – hit a homerun and in that moment, everyone got up and I never felt anything like it. The noise from those people – you could feel it on your body. It was crazy and incredible; some of the most fun I’ve had ever.”
 
Moorehead State lost that game 4-3 in extra innings.
 
“Then we had to turn around and play St. Johns the next day and ended up losing to them, too, but to go to the regionals was an incredible experience,” Fain said. “To be one of 64 teams left in the country to be able to play, it was an experience.”
 
Moorehead State ended its season 37-26, playing the most games in the program’s history. The last win was one to remember.
 
“We won our conference – the Ohio Valley Tournament – beating Tennessee Tech, one of the best teams in the country. They won 48 games,” Fain said.
 
The past two years, the Eagles had gotten close to a conference championship.
 
“We got to the same point every year and weren’t able to get over the hump, but this year we did,” Fain said. “Everybody had us written off. It was Tennessee Tech’s conference to lose. We lost to them initially, then had to play Eastern Kentucky to get back in and beat Tennessee Tech twice.”
 
Fain said he’ll never tire of that satisfying feeling.
 
“You work from August until that point for that moment and once you finally do end up winning the championship, everybody is dog piling. It was incredible,” he said. “We put in three years and finally got to experience that.”
 
He’ll also never forget his four years catching for the Tribe; the state championships, but also the friendships and what he learned under Robert Shields’ coaching. It all came flooding back last Saturday, June 2, while he was following Twitter feed of the Indians’ state championship game.
 
“I saw video of (the game) going on, then it was pouring the rain. I refreshed and they were making a comeback and won,” he said. “The dog pile brought me back to when we did it my junior and senior years.”
 
It was 2014, Fain’s junior year, when the Indians beat Independence 5-2 for the Class AA title. With runners on first and second – and one out – Fain singled in Zach Hineman with a shot to left field that moved Dante Bonamico to third. An attempt to throw Bonamico out gave Fain opportunity to move to second. Max Dodrill went in to run for Fain, advancing to third and ultimately scoring the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
 
“It all came back to me. It’s crazy, but it seems like forever ago,” Fain said. “The thing I remember most from that game is Logan Smith pitching. It was the final out of the game and it was an 8/9 count. Logan kept firing balls, fouling them off. Their best hitter was up to bat and he finally struck him out and I caught the ball. I spiked it on the ground and went to celebrate and no one knows whatever happened to that ball. I’ll never do that again.”
 
There was so much excitement, Fain recalls.
 
“It was our first state title since 2000,” he said. “The coach had some teams get close, but couldn’t get over the hump. We finally did it and I remember how much our senior group of guys wanted it at that moment. We all just wanted to throw everything and go tackle everybody. It’s my fondest memory.”
 
The following year, the state title game was against Chapmanville.
 
“We had played them the year before in semis and then we came up against them again in the 2015 state championship, winning 5-0,” Fain said.
 
In the semis, the Indians played Pikeville. After an initial back-and-forth contest, BHS pulled ahead and ultimately 10-runned them.
 
“Jared Cleghorn pitched an absolute gem that day. It was crazy,” Fain said.
 
So many of Fain’s BHS teammates went on to play college ball. Houston Morris pitches and plays infield for Fairmont State, third baseman Joe LaRocca played for Potomac State and is now infielder at FSU; Sammy Aloi – Fain’s best friend – pitched for Potomac State and now pitches for FSU; right fielder Joe Dodrill played outfield at Potomac State; Hunter Mann played for West Virginia Wesleyan; Hunter Haddox went on to pitch for Potomac State; Logan Smith pitches for FSU; Tyler Skidmore, infielder, played for Potomac State, then FSU and Drew Hefner went on to play for the University of Charleston.
 
“We started out that year 21-0 and ended up winning 37 games,” Fain said. “There was so much talent on that team, it doesn’t surprise me we had so many guys play in college. We grew up together. We had played together since Little League and not only were we good, but we knew how good we were because we know had good each other played. We were all brothers. It was good.”
 
Fain is now adding his college baseball career to his memory bank and he has no intentions on rushing through it. He wants to enjoy each game, each moment.
 
Fain knew when he graduated from BHS that he wanted to play college ball and had his eye on Moorehead State. At that time, he thought he might pursue the dental field, but he switched gears and is now a finance major. He said he hasn’t had opportunity to pursue an internship because he has played summer ball each year.
 
“After my freshman year, I played in Galion, Ohio and last year I went up to Springfield, Massachusetts to play for the Blue Socks,” he said. “They are collegiate summer ball teams. They are teams of 30 guys who come from different universities. It’s crazy how the network of baseball is. The world is so small. All these people from schools all over come together and play.”
 
Summer league is not required. In fact, Fain isn’t playing this year. But the coach does encourage it in order to stay on the field and improve year to year. Fain said he continues to spend time in the weight room and strives to get as strong and quick as possible.
 
“When I’m at school, I work out and lift four times a week on top of practice, but once summer rolls around, we’re not in season so we can get after it a little bit harder. I try to work out five to six days a week in the weight room and on top of that, do two to three days of speed agility workout: sprints, cone drills, etc. to get quicker.”
 
Fain also continues to work on hitting, throwing and defense. It’s important to stay on top of his game.
 
“College baseball is a great thing and I love it, but it is a job 100 percent. It’s as close to playing professionally as you can get; you have to be committed to it,” he said. “It was my dream coming out of high school to play college baseball and that came through. Ever since, it has been everything I thought it would be and more. It’s been a lot of fun.”
 
And a second conference championship would top it off perfectly, he said.
 
Fain feels fortunate to have come from Bridgeport High School’s baseball program.
 
“It’s no shock to me that they’ve won five straight championships in a row and are going for six,” he said. “I know the work the guys put in each year and it’s great to see the program excel.”
 
Coach Robert Shields always told Fain to strive to have the best at-bat every single time he stepped up to bat.
 
“And another big thing he really showed me over my four years is that you always have to work hard for what you want. He said if you want something bad enough, you’ll go out and get it. He pounded that in my head.”

 



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