Big Reds take round 1

Parkersburg tops South in sectional action

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg High designated hitter Blake Casto braces as a pitch heads for his body during the Big Reds’ 4-3 Class AAA, Region IV, Section 1 championship win over Parkersburg South Monday at Hank Greenburg Field.

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg High took the lead early then held on late for a 4-3 win over Parkersburg South in the opening game of the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 1 championship Monday night at Hank Greenburg Field.

Alan Burns’ Big Reds scored the first four runs of the contest before Matt Null’s Patriots scored the final three in a close one-run victory.

Nate Erhard gave the visitors the lead three batters in when his one-out two-bagger found the gap between the left and center fielder and plated teammate Kyle Goodwin. Parkersburg’s shortstop led off the game with a triple to give the Big Reds an early scoring opportunity.

Parkersburg South’s starting pitcher Dalton Wiggins recovered to strike out Max Anderson and Colby Wagner and strand Erhard at second.

The red and white increased the lead to 3-0 early in the second inning. Blake Casto and Tyler Cancade put Wiggins in hot water after both reached in consecutive at-bats to begin the frame. Casto took one for the team and advanced to third after Cancade doubled with zero outs.

Big Reds’ starting pitcher Blaine Thornburg’s sacrifice to right field proved enough to bring Casto home. Cancade advanced to third base on the Thornburg sac-fly then scored on a wild pitch to Kam Mace.

“That was a good start to start out with a triple like that,” said Burns on scoring three runs early. “That kind of set the tone and then we score there and get a couple in the second to go up later on.”

Parkersburg’s bats went quiet after the early outburst until the Big Reds tacked on their fourth run in the top of the sixth inning. Erhard led off with a single, advanced to second after Max Anderson drew a walk before being driven home on Casto’s two-out single to right field.

“It was really big when we got that fourth run,” said Burns. “We told them we needed more and we got it.”

Thornburg seldom had trouble through the first five innings on the mound. The senior faced two squirrely situations in the fourth and fifth inning but worked fast to take care of the threats. He did a good job of staying in front of Patriot hitters and kept them out in front with good breaking balls most of the evening.

Null’s South squad finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Reece Fletcher’s double to deep right field kicked off an inning where South sent seven guys to the plate. By the time PHS batted again, its four-run lead had been trimmed down to one.

Extra-base hits accounted for most of South’s contact in its lone scoring frame of the night.

Despite the multi-run frame, Thornburg drew rave reviews from both coaches.

“He (Thornburg) pitched a great ball game,” said Null. “We couldn’t get a rally going. He did a great job of keeping us off balance and made a lot of great plays. The bottom line is the majority of our outs were in the air and we won 20 games by making our outs on the ground in long rallies.”

“Blaine did a good job,” said Burns. “He walked two guys all night. He did a great job.”

Goodwin worked the seventh for a save. He struck out one and walked none.

Bafflingly, the winning team is back in action this time against top-seed Ripley at 6:30 p.m. today at Ripley High School. Goodwin is expected to take the mound against the Vikings.