PARKERSBURG - Speed kills. Just ask the Vikings from Ripley High School.
With their season on the line, the Vikings saw their season come to a sudden close when Parkersburg South's A.J. Easter scored from second base on what could easily have been the third out of the seventh inning, but turned into a bloop RBI single by Jordan Braniff as Parkersburg South came away with a dramatic, 7-6, come-from-behind win Wednesday night at Hank Greenburg Field.
"That is how we play," explained Patriots' manager Matt Null. "We want our kids playing hard on every pitch and it paid off there in the seventh inning."
Parkersburg South, now 22-9 on the season, fought back from an early 2-0 deficit-thanks to a 2-run home run by Jamin Jones in the first inning-to take a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Ripley, which concludes the season with a 14-18 mark, came back to knot the game at five in its half of the fourth and the game remained tied when both teams tallied a run in the sixth inning. Easter, who came in relief in the bottom of the fifth, got things going for the Patriots with a sharp single to center to begin the top half of the seventh. A sacrifice bunt by Adam McCray moved Easter into scoring position one pitch later.
However, it appeared as if that would be as far as the Patriots' pitcher would get after shortstop Clay Walters hit a foul pop to first base. Braniff, who went 2 for 4 on the night with a pair of runs-batted-in, then lofted a ball down the third base line that both third baseman Logan Welling and shortstop Tyler Casto appeared to have a bead upon.
Federal Hocking 4, Crooksville 3
Crooksville 000 003 0 - 3 6 1
Federal Hocking 100 101 1 - 4 8 3
WP: Romey Casey 1 IP, 0 SO, 1 BB
Brad Church 6 Ip, 3 SO, 1 BB
LP: Chris Sparks 3 IP, 2 SO, 0 BB
Cody Johnson 4 IP, 4 SO, 2 BB
Crooksville hitters: Chris Orecchio 2-2; Austin Erwin 12-3, 2 RBIs
Federal Hocking hitters: Austin Russell 2-4; Isaac Staats 1-2, dboule; Romey Casey 3-3, RBI; Josh Coen 1-4, game-winning RBI
Records: Federal Hocking 15-9, Crooksville 13-11
Next game: Nelsonville-York at Federal Hocking at 11 a.m. Saturday for sectional championship
Region 4, Section 2
at Hank Greenburg Field
Parkersburg South 7, Ripley 6
PSHS (22-9) 000 501 1-7 11 2
RHS (14-18) 200 301 0-6 8 3
WP: A.J. Easter (in relief) 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO
Wes Mitchem (starter) 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
LP: Heath Barnette 7 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO
PS hitters: Jacob Wilcox 1-4; Braxton Johnson 3-5, double, RBI; Wes Mitchem 3-4, 3 RBI; A.J. Easter 1-1; Adam McCray 1-3; Jordan Braniff 2-4, 2 RBI
Ripley hitters: Tyler Casto 1-3, RBI; Logan Welling 1-3; Jamin Jones 1-2, 2-run home run in first, 2 RBI; Nathan Tucker 1-4; Tyler Pittenger 1-2; Alex Karst 1-2; Jonathan Murphy 1-3, RBI; Ben Dewees 1-3, RBI
Next game: Parkersburg at Parkersburg South at Hank Greenburg Field at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Class A, Region I, Section 3
at Bennett Stump Field
Williamstown 13, St. Marys 4
SMHS (15-14) 200 020 0 - 4 8 5
WHS (21-6) 227 200 x - 13 7 1
WP: Eli Gray 7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO
LP: Tyler Davis 2.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 SO
Austin Wilson .2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO
Robbie Harper 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB 4 SO
St. Marys hitting: Harper 2-4 R, 2B; Aaron Tice 1-4, 2 R; Jarrod Lough 1-3 R; Justin Riggs RBI; Garrett Furr SB; Matthew Houser 2-4, 2B, 3 RBIs; Wilson 1-3; Dillon Renner 1-3
Williamstown hitting: Case Edgar 2-3 R, SB, 2B, 2 RBIs; Dakota Watson R, 2 RBIs; Gray 2 R, RBI; Josh DeBolt 1-4 R, 2 RBIs; David Hastings R; Avery Goff 1-4; Brandon Yost 1-2 R, SB; Dylan Stansberry R; Joel Swisher R, SB; Jake Tracewell 2-4, 2 R, SB, RBI; Austin Eddy 2 R, 2 SB; Bret MacIver SB
Next game: Williamstown vs. Parkersburg Catholic 5 p.m. today back at City Park.
Ohio Division III sectional semifinal
At Civitan Park, Belpre
Belpre 8, River Valley 2
River Valley 000 010 1 - 2 3 3
Belpre 131 030 x - 8 10 2
WP: Drew Nestor 7IP 3H 2R 1ER 4BB 15SO
LP: Timmy Kemper 1.2IP 5H 4R 4ER 2BB 0SO
Chris Clemente 4.1IP 5H 4R 2ER 1BB 2SO
Leading hitters: River Valley Chris Clemente 1-1, 2B, 2 runs; Zach Crowe 1-3, RBI. Belpre - Matt Johnson 1-1, run, RBI; Wes Hatfield 2-2, run, 2B; Jesse Whittington 1-3, 2 runs; Drew Nestor 3-4, 2B, run, 3 RBIs; Ryan Epperly RBI; Hayden Plummer 2-3, run, RBI; D.J. Leftwich 1-3, run; Brennen Ferrell 1-3, RBI.
Records: River Valley 5-19; Belpre 9-13
Next game: Ohio Division III sectional final Belpre at Alexander, 11 a.m. Saturday
Ohio Division IV sectional semifinal
At Civitan Park, Belpre
Belpre 14, Miller 0 (5 innings)
Miller 000 00 - 0 1 1
Belpre 473 0x - 14 6 2
WP: Natalie Perry 5IP 1H 0R 0ER 0BB 7SO
LP: Sarah West
Leading hitters: Belpre - Arielle Gramkow 1-1, 3 runs; Natalie Perry 1-1, 3 runs, RBI; Kelsey Pratt 2-2, RBI; Destiny Bell 2 RBIs; Kaity Hager 1-2; Stephanie Boso 1-1, 2 RBIs.
Records: Belpre 7-14 (7-9 TVC Hocking); Miller 0-20 (0-16 TVC Hocking)
Next game: Ohio Division IV sectional semifinal - Belpre at Waterford, 11 a.m. Saturday
Whatever the reason-lack of communication or the ball getting lost in the lights-the ball dropped untouched to the ground for an infield single. Easter, who never stopped running on the play, had already rounded third when the ball hit the outfield grass and never slowed down in touching home base with, what would prove to be, the game-winning run.
Ripley, which won the pre-game coin toss to earn home field advantage, opened its final time at-bat with Welling earning first base via being hit by a pitch. A sacrifice bunt by Jones advanced Welling to second.
But, that would be as far as the Viking third baseman would get as Easter would get Heath Barnette on a short fly ball to left field and Nathan Tucker on a grounder to short for the final out of the game.
"That (running the bases) is just instinct," said Null. "We are going to run. That is how we play."
Parkersburg South fans will look to see its team run more at 6:30 p.m. today when the Patriots play host to crosstown rival Parkersburg, a 3-1 winner over Ripley in the first game of the sectional back on Monday. The two city rivals now will meet in what will be a best 2-out-of-3 series for the sectional title.
"That (playing PHS 2-out-of-3) is the way it was when I played," said Null. "And, with the new sectionals next year, that is the way it is going to be."
Braxton Johnson and Wes Mitchem each finished with three hits while Braniff contributed two. Mitchem led both teams with 3 RBIs. Jones was the Vikings' top hitter with his 2-run shot over the right field fence in the first inning.