Big Reds suffer sectional setback to Ripley Vikings

Ripley’s Lane Casto needed just 89 pitches to fire a complete game that featured zero walks and nine strikeouts as the host Vikings nipped Parkersburg, 2-1, in sectional action on Tuesday evening. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

RIPLEY — Kyle Goodwin allowed a run that shouldn’t have been as well as an unearned tally here Tuesday evening in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 1 tournament, but his effort on the mound wasn’t enough as Lane Casto pitched host Ripley past Parkersburg, 2-1.

With the victory, the Vikings (17-10) will get today off while PHS will play an elimination game at 6:30 p.m. versus rival Parkersburg South at Hank Greenburg Field with that victor heading Thursday back to Jackson County.

“You know, Kyle pitched well and Hayden Morris played well in right field,” said PHS skipper Alan Burns, whose squad fell to 12-10 and got its lone run in the top of the seventh.

“That was about the extent of it. We didn’t seem to show up to play tonight. We didn’t show up until the seventh inning at the plate. We got to win three games in a row now, so that’s how it is.”

Facing a 2-0 deficit, PHS got things started in the top of the seventh with a one-out Blake Casto single. Blaine Thornburg followed with a shot past Viking third baseman Rocky Ford and it was 2-1 after Kam Mace laced a long RBI single down the left-field line. With runners on first and second, the No. 9 hitter Morris went down on strikes and Viking catcher Tyler Haskins fired the ball to first baseman JT Kemp, who tagged out Mace for a game-ending double play.

Parkersburg’s Kyle Goodwin prepares to deliver a pitch during Tuesday’s 2-1 sectional setback at Ripley. Goodwin went the distance, allowed just one earned run and had five punchouts. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

“Lane had him struck out and I think the runner on first thought there were two outs,” said Haskins, who was robbed of a hit in the fourth when second baseman Nate Erhard made a fully-extended diving catch toward first and again in the fifth when Morris robbed him with a diving catch coming straight toward the infield when the bases were juiced with two outs. “He had his head down and he was just stopped over there.

“I turned and I just chucked it. I was hoping JT would catch it and JT got him. It was a great game. Lane pitched a heckuva game. I don’t know (about getting robbed twice in the same game). I just have to tip my hat to them. They were heckuva plays. I couldn’t catch a break tonight. It was one of those nights.”

Casto was in control throughout. He scattered seven hits, walked none and recorded nine punchouts while allowing one earned run. PHS had a one-out double to the base of the fence in right by catcher Colby Wagner in the second, but he was left stranded when Viking shortstop Remy Boyce corralled a Thornburg grounder that appeared as though it might make it into center field, stood up and fired it to Kemp at first.

Morris had a one-out single in the third and Goodwin followed with a hit, but nothing materialized. Bradley Craig had a one-out single to left in the sixth, but was left stranded.

“About the third inning I started getting my offspeed stuff over and usually when that happens it’s usually a pretty good game,” said Casto, who threw 62 of his 89 pitches for strikes. “The defense was making a lot of plays for me and Remy played a heckuva shortstop today.

“It wasn’t our best hitting night, but I mean we got the job done. That’s all that matters. We just found a way to manufacture runs. I’ll chuck strikes and they can get some guys across the plate.”

The first Viking to cross the plate was Casto himself, who reached on a fielder’s choice in the first and later scored following a Kemp single and a Big Red throwing error.

Ripley got what turned out to be the difference maker in the second. Haskins started it with a two-out infield single to shortstop and was replaced by courtesy runner Kaegan Jackson. No. 9 hitter Jacob Brannon then followed with a bouncer back toward Goodwin, who raced off the mound, fielded the ball and bolted to first. Goodwin hit the bag and then Brannon ran into his back, but the Viking was ruled safe. Boyce then followed with an RBI knock to right.

“Lane pitched a great game for us and he’s done that a lot for us this year,” said Ripley head man Shane Casto, who watched first team all-stater Anthony Jarvis go 0 for 1 with a trio of free passes. “We got to find a way to not leave runs on the bases. We left them loaded twice and second and third once.

“Hats off to them. We got runners on and they didn’t get rattled and they made some plays. It was a good game and that’s the way baseball is supposed to be played.”

Boyce, who joined Kemp and Brannon with two hits apiece, had the only other extra-base hit with his double in the sixth.