WHEELING — There are days on the diamond when a team must find a way to score runs where the clutch hits aren’t falling.
Wheeling Park did just that April 21, as it rallied from two runs down for a 3-2 walk-off victory over University in an OVAC 5A semifinal, at Patriot Field. The Patriots will play Parkersburg South, a 1-0 winner against Morgantown, for the championship next weekend.
In four-straight innings, the Patriots got their leadoff hitter on base but runs just weren’t coming. That was until Park coach Mike McLeod went to the hit-and-run.
Park tied the game and scored the game-winning run on hit-and-run plays, a strategy that McLeod says comes from just believing in his players.
“You have to instill the trust in your players,” McLeod said. “When you get to these big games where the teams are equal, you have to do some things that you normally wouldn’t do to get over the hump.”
As Park trailed 2-0 entering the fifth, its first three hitters reached base to cut the deficit in half. Then, Nolan Mattern took off for second and Zach Kahle delivered a perfectly placed RBI single to right to knot the score at 2-2.
Kahle did his damage on the basepaths in the seventh as he reached on an error with two outs and hustled to second on the play. He continued to use his speed as he darted toward third as teammate Jacob Shia sent a grounder to UHS shortstop Casey Smith, who fielded the ball but sent an errant throw to first, allowing Kahle to race home with the game-winning run.
“We have a great team and a great coach,” Kahle said. “We were just thinking that the pitcher was tired and he is not giving us any attention on the bases, so, let’s take every base we can until we get a run to win the game. Then, Shia had a perfect hit and the error got me home. That was a big play.”
The hit-and-run might have served as a distraction on the play but Shia’s hustle down the line also caused Smith to hurry the throw.
On the mound, the tandem of starter Zach Hickman and Trevor Thomas did their part to keep a potent Hawks lineup at bay.
Hickman surrendered a run in each of the first two innings but that was it, as he worked his way out of trouble with five strikeouts to leave seven Hawks’ runners stranded on base.
Thomas finished the game and picked up the win with two punch outs in two innings.
Hawks’ pitcher Cam Stoldt was sharp on the hill as he went the distance with a strikeout and a walk but was done in by four errors behind him.
“Cam threw a hell of a game,” UHS head coach Donavon Riggleman said. “Unfortunately, our defense didn’t come through for him. That’s what it boiled down to. The game should have been 2-0. Not to mention that we left seven runners on base in the first four innings. We just had no quality at-bats.
“You have to pitch, throw, catch and hit but we didn’t do them all [Saturday].”
Trevor Barnhart and Stoldt each supplied RBI hits for the Hawks in the first two stanzas to secure the early 2-0 edge.
The first Park run came on a throwing error that sent Ryan Hummel home.
The Park victory avenged an earlier season 13-7 loss at home to UHS, leaving the Patriots hungry for a win.
“It is always nice to beat a program like that in your region,” McLeod said. “We talked about them punching us in the mouth the last time we played them so it’s always nice to get a victory against a top-notch program in the state.”
BLACKSVILLE — Cee-Bees pitcher Caitlyn Kassay was dominant in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, but ran out of gas in the second game.
Kassay pitched seven scoreless innings in Game 1, allowing just one hit. Abbey Ammons and Alicia Keener drove in the two C-B runs.
In Game 2, Kassay pitched the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the third. Madonna scored five runs in the third and seven in the fourth.
Kassay and Sydney Wilson drove in the two C-B runs.
The Cee-Bees (14-2) will host Doddridge County at 5 p.m. April 24.
Spring Mills 3
The Hawks were led by three goals and two assists from Mallory Napolillo on Saturday, against the Cardinals.
Other scorers for UHS include Jordyn Snider (2), Sophie Armstrong (2), Mackenzie Slavensky, Ava Foreman, Morgan Crocco and Olivia Wills. Slavensky also had an assist.
Goalie Riley Phares had 15 saves for the Hawks.
Spring Mills 7
KINGWOOD — Tied for most of the third period, the Knights fell to the Cardinals with a late goal in the frame.
Jaron Summers had two goals and one assist for PHS, while Dakota Holt had one goal and one assist, and David Reckart and Montgomery Rebelo had one goal. It was the first goal of Rebelo’s career.
Jeremy Hovatter had 15 saves.
The Knights were set to play Huntington, but the Highlanders were forced to forfeit because of a lack of players. PHS (5-6, 4-2) will take on Harrison County at Robert C. Byrd at 7 p.m. April 24.
George Washington 16
CHARLESTON — The Mohigans (7-3) fell on the road Friday night.
MHS goal-scorers included Cody Calvert (2), Hazen Powell (2), Daniel Stanton and Nate Goldcamp. Assists were gathered by Nate Goldcamp, Nate Fielding and Gabe Thomas. Goalie Daniel Pastilong had eight saves.
The Mohigans will host Fairmont Senior at 7 p.m. April 23.
JV girls’ lacrosse
University 11, Spring Mills 5: The Hawks were led by three goals each from Sela Chico and Chasity Louk. Alex Lang (2), Emily McCabe, Sophie Valachovic and Olivia Staud also scored for UHS.