Catholic baseball tops Wirt in season opener

DAVISVILLE – Jake Ullman, Austin Luther and Payton Sturm each went 3-for-4 and Mike Hinton tossed five frames of two-hit baseball here on a blustery Wednesday at Marshall Field as host Parkersburg Catholic handed Wirt County a 16-1 setback in the Crusaders’ season opener.

The Tigers, who dropped to 0-3 and will play host to Buffalo at 4:30 p.m. today, stranded eight runners and left the bases loaded in the first inning.

Wirt County starter Brant Freeland matched Hinton with seven strikeouts and three free passes, but the Crusaders of skipper Tom Harvey exploded for a dozen runs in the fourth to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.

Freeland plated the Tigers’ lone run in the first when he singled and eventually scored on the first of four PCHS errors.

However, the Crusaders sent nine batters to the plate in the third and Hinton had all the support he needed after four scored.

Luther, who was a homer shy of the cycle, knocked in his first run of the season, thanks to an RBI double that plated Ullman. Sturm tallied the first of his four runs-batted-in on a bloop single that somehow managed to fall between the diving efforts of both Tiger third baseman Dylan Pickrell and shortstop Trent Hardbarger. No. 8 hitter Evan Dexter knocked in the other two runs on a single to right.

The Crusaders, who are set to visit Spencer for a 4 p.m. twinbill today versus Roane County, sent 16 batters to the dish in the fourth. The first five – Ullman, Luther, Jake Boice, Cary Casto and Sturm – all reached before Freeland fanned Andrew Cinalli for the first out.

But Sturm had an RBI single and a two-run single in the frame, and Hinton delivered a two-run single. Also collecting RBIs in the big fourth were Boice, Dexter, Ullman on a double and Luther on a three-bagger.

Hardbarger had the Tigers’ only other hit, a single to center to start the fifth.

Ullman swiped two bags, and joined Luther and courtesy runner Andrew Garvin in scoring three times each.

Pickrell had a web gem in the third when he robbed Hinton, who fouled off a pitch that looked like it was going out of play. But Pickrell make a leaping catch as he got his glove above the fence and snared the ball, which was heading out of play.