Hunter DeLong hurls Patriots past Big Reds in sectional action

South senior helps end Parkersburg High’s season with his three-hit complete-game effort

PARKERSBURG — A three-run first inning was all Parkersburg South needed Wednesday night as senior right-hander Hunter DeLong hurled an efficient three-hit shutout as the host Patriots posted a 3-0 victory over Parkersburg High at Hank Greenburg Field to eliminate the Big Reds from the Class AAA Region IV, Section 1 baseball tournament.

South, now 21-7, will have to win two straight at Ripley (17-10) today and Friday to capture the sectional crown and move on to regional play. Meanwhile, PHS finished its season at 12-11.

The Patriots’ 3-spot in the first frame was started by back-to-back one-out singles by Dalton Wiggins and Bryce Eagle. After a fly-ball out, DeLong, Ben Menarchek and Ryan Taylor in succession produced RBIs on singles.

DeLong bounced his run-scoring hit through the hole into left field with Wiggins sliding in safely at the plate, beating the tag. Menarchek followed with his RBI single into center, and Taylor’s low pop-up behind the mound that fell in when no one caught the ball enabled run No. 3 of the inning to score.

DeLong (6-1) faced only 26 batters total, just five over the minimum with five strikeouts and two walks. PHS had only two base-runners reach second, but no further. For the game, DeLong threw pitches numbering in the 70s or low 80s.

Big Red skipper Alan Burns replaced starter Jordan Batten after a walk to lead off the South second, bringing Max Anderson over from first base to pitch and he kept the Patriots off the board the rest of the way with a three-strikeout, no-walk performance.

But for South, the key was the early lead. “We came out early and hit the ball well with five hits in the first inning,” said Patriot head coach Matt Null. “But after that, their reliever (Anderson) did a really nice job keeping us off balance, as we basically just hit a lot of fly balls from the second inning on.”

On DeLong’s pitching prowess Wednesday, “he did a great job, threw a lot of strikes and kept the ball down most of the game,” said Null.

“I just had everything going, working for me today,” said DeLong. “My curveball was working pretty good, so I just kept going back to it.” And knocking in his team’s first run “felt pretty good,” added DeLong. “I feel like then everyone just fed off that and we got on a roll and scored scored two more (runs) after that.”

One thing Burns emphasized was that his team “hung in there the whole way and never gave up — I’m proud of them for that.

“It’s been an uphill battle for us the last few weeks because we lost our leadoff hitter and our cleanup hitter — .442 and .429 hitters. Three above .400 and we lose two of them. But we competed today.”

Too, “when Max (Anderson) came in (to pitch) for five scoreless innings, he did a great job keeping us in game and within striking range,” said Burns.