Fourth-inning magic lifts South Patriots

PARKERSBURG – Senior righthander Brad Brubaker struck out seven in the first four innings Tuesday night and Parkersburg South scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-1 lead that held up for a baseball win over visiting University when the game was stopped by lightning after the top of the fifth frame and never resumed again at Hank Greenburg Field.

The Patriots, improving to 12-6 on the season, had forged a 2-0 lead through three innings, despite having only one hit to the Hawks’ five.

In the second, Hunter Hamilton singled with one out, stole second and went to third on a throwing error on the play, and scored when Tyler Berry delivered a sacrifice fly to center field.

The third saw another South tally as Wes Mitchem drew a leadoff walk and Clay Walters – playing his first game since being hit in the jaw by a bad-hop ground ball on April 3 – sacrificed Mitchem to second, from where he scored on Jacob Wilcox’s ground ball right through shortstop for an error.

Meanwhile, Brubaker wriggled off a one-out, bases-loaded hook in the second with back-to-back whiffs and then was bailed out of a one-out, two-on jam by a nifty 4-6-3 double play in the top of the third. He did, though, surrender a run in the fourth on Jacob Hart’s double followed by Colton Sanders’ RBI single.

But in the last of the fourth, the Patriots plated a decisive three-spot. Jordan Braniff led off with a single to center and continued on to second on an error when the ball was misplayed in the outfield, and scored on two wild pitches. Hamilton walked, stole second and scored when Berry dropped an RBI single into left field. Berry then stole second snd scored on two groundouts to short.

After Brubaker retired University (6-9) in order in the top of the fifth, lightning halted play for a half-hour before the game was called.

”Brad threw the ball well – had only 64 pitches,” said South head coach Matt Null about Brubaker’s mound effort. ”When he kept the ball down, that led to his strikeouts.”

A senior, Walters started at shortstop Tuesday – two weeks after having ”four or five teeth displaced,” said Null, by the batted ball that ”caught him in the jaw, and also drove a couple teeth through his lip.”

But Tuesday, Walters ”was cleared to play with a protective mask,”said Null. ”He’s a tough kid.”