PARKERSBURG - Veteran Parkersburg baseball skipper Alan Burns had some words of wisdom before his Big Reds (8-9) took on Mountain State Athletic Conference rival Ripley (4-15) Thursday night at Bennett Stump Field.
"I told the kids before the game that I talked to Ripley coach (Shane) Casto and he told me that the reason his team was losing was that they would always have one or two innings where they would make errors that would hurt them," said Burns. "So, I told our kids to keep the game close, put the ball in play and we'd have a chance to win."
Words that came true as the Big Reds tallied a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth to pull out an exciting 7-6 victory over the Vikings.
"Actually, there was a bit of miscommunication," said third baseman Logan Dudley, who drove in the tying run with a double and then scored the winning run on a throwing error by the visitors. "Coach (Burns) had given me the bunt sign, but I thought he had given me the hit-and-run sign so I swung at the pitch."
The decision proved to be a good one as the ball reached the alley in the outfield, allowing courtesy runner Colby Bennett to cross the plate with the Big Reds' sixth run of the game. But the play was far from over.
"I thought that if the outfielder threw the ball to the plate that I could reach third," continued Dudley. "But after I made the turn I stopped and started to head back to second. All of a sudden he (the catcher) surprised me by throwing the ball, but it sailed over the shortstop's head into center field and I took off for third.
"Once I made it there, coach (Burns) gave me the signal to go home and I ran as hard as I could to get there."
A feat the Big Red infielder accomplished.
Ripley reliever Logan McCoy, who pitched five innings, settled down and avoided any more damage, but the worst had been done. Parkersburg starter Anthony Kist made the most of his now-one run lead, setting down the Vikings in order-the final two by strikeouts-to pick up the victory.
The senior hurler overcame a shaky start, giving up six runs-five earned-in the first three innings before settling down to shut the visitors out over the final four innings. Kist struck out six Vikings and walked only two.
"I thought Anthony (Kist) pitched a pretty good game," said Burns. "For the most part he was in control of his pitches and he did a great job of pitching from behind when he needed to."
Parkersburg returns to action at 4:30 p.m. today when it travels to South Charleston for another MSAC showdown.