Catholic moves past Blue Devils

Crusders score four in the fifth

Parkersburg Catholic's Drew Gill rounds third base during the Crusaders 5-2 win over St. Marys Wednesday night.

DAVISVILLE — A four-run fifth inning lifted Parkersburg Catholic past St. Marys in a pivotal Wednesday evening Little Kanawha Conference West battle, 5-2. The Crusader faithful at Marshall Field went home happy, and a game that was a pitchers’ duel in the early going got away from the visiting Blue Devils in a hurry.

Patrick Copen and Jason Clayton traded blows from the mound, but it was Clayton who was the tough-luck loser. He started the evening on a high note when he got out of a jam in his first inning.

The Crusaders had a chance to do damage on a two-out rally, but they came up empty-handed. With runners at second and third, Clayton induced Joel Stophel into grounding out to end the threat.

Copen showed similar resolve and got himself out of trouble in his half of the first. With St. Marys already up 1-0, he struck out both Marshall Norman and Brayden Wilson to leave two men on base. That resolve by the the Crusaders’ ace proved to be the reason why Catholic stayed in the game.

Both pitchers limited opportunities for the offenses in the early going, but it was the Devils’ inability to score with runners in scoring position that made the difference.

“We left too many guys in scoring position,” SMHS coach Ed Wilson admitted. “We had about eight or nine left on base, and we couldn’t get them in.”

One time where the Blue Devils successfully cashed in was during the fourth inning. In an effort to help his own cause, Clayton bunted to push his teammates from first and second up a base. The sacrifice bunt exceeded expectations when Copen tried to throw Brayden Wilson out at third, but he threw the ball away.

Down 2-0, the home half of the fifth was just what PC needed.

Drew Gill kicked of the scoring, as he bunted with the bases full of Crusaders to send home Ty Sturm. What was supposed to be a sacrifice bunt turned into an error by Clayton, as he failed to field the bunt. That kept the bases full with nobody out.

Steven Garvin accounted for the first out of the inning, but he lifted a sacrifice fly to right that tied the game. Clay Dexter hit the dagger of the game for Catholic with a two-run single to center field.

Tack on another run with two innings of relief from Garvin, and Catholic completed the comeback over its conference foes. Despite exiting the game without the lead, Copen got the win after five innings of time on the mound.

“He just had to find his grove,” Catholic coach Tom Harvey said of Copen’s initial struggles. “His back was tightened up a little bit. He wasn’t 100 percent today, but he battled and kept us in the ballgame. We were able to rally again, get some guys on and get some clutch hits and bunts here and there.”

With the victory, Catholic (8-11, 5-4 LKC West) is winners of three out of its last four and are jockeying for position in the LKC West. They welcome Wirt County to Marshall Field at 5 p.m. Tuesday. This setback for St. Marys (14-5, 6-2 LKC West) keeps the West in play for the rest of the field, and they head to Calhoun County for a Friday doubleheader.