PARKERSBURG - Host Parkersburg South overcame an early 2-0 Ritchie County lead with five straight runs, then had to stave off the Rebels to notch a 7-6 baseball win on Senior Night Wednesday evening at Hank Greenburg Field.
The victory boosted the Patriots' record to 10-19 heading into their final regular-season game at home Friday versus John Marshall at 5 p.m. Ritchie, now 13-11, plays in its Class AA sectional tournament Friday at the loser of today's Roane County-Ravenswood game.
After South responded with a key run twice after the Rebels closed to within 5-4 and 6-5, Josh Wells took over on the mound for the Patriots after Ritchie yet again pulled within a run at 7-6 in the top of the sixth inning and had the potential tying tally at second base and only one out.
But Wells was equal to the task at hand, firing away to record four strikeouts in a row before issuing a walk, but then getting a ground ball out to end the game.
Ritchie started out the game, though, with three consecutive singles, the third by Tyler Reed plating the Rebels' first run and another coming a batter later when Orlando Burgy hit into a run-scoring fielder's choice at second base.
However, South came back with a three-spot in the bottom of the first on Sam Boso's RBI single followed by Wells' two-run double to take a 3-2 lead that was extended to 5-2 in the second when Boso singled in two more runs.
The Rebels made it 5-4 in the top of the third on Cory Farley's bases-loaded walk and Austin Weekley's run-scoring fielder's choice groundout at second. But Dakota Robinson banged out an RBI double in the bottom the frame for a 6-4 Patriot advantage.
Seth Cottrill delivered a sacrifice fly for Ritchie in the fourth for just a 6-5 deficit, but South scored on a Rebel throwing error in its fourth at-bat to regain a two-run edge at 7-5.
A Patriot error allowed Ritchie's sixth-inning run to come home before South head coach Matt Null called on Wells, who stifled the Rebels the rest of the way.
Null said both he and Ritchie head coach Dan Vanoy used Thursday's game as "a warmup for the sectional. Both of us used some guys who will probably pitch in the tournament."
For South, the Patriots will face arch-rival Parkersburg High in a two-team, best-of-three Class AAA sectional next week, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Greenburg. The second game is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at City Park, with a third and deciding game if necessary back at Greenburg at 6 p.m. Thursday. PHS and South split 1-1 during the regular season.
"We would have been in a lot more games had we just made the routine plays," said Null. "When we've fielded the ball, made the routine play and thrown two out of three pitches for strikes, we've been very competitive. But when we haven't done that, things haven't turned out very good for us."
Vanoy attributed losing by one run Thursday to "us leaving too many runners on base (8). Situational hitting wins ballgames and we kind of broke down in that department tonight.
"We had a young team starting out (this season), but they've improved, so I can't complain."