South falls to Fort Frye, 6-4
BEVERLY – A win by either host Fort Frye or visiting Parkersburg South would all but punch their ticket to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament that begins this weekend in their respective divisions.
The Cadets made the most of just three basehits as they used a five-run fourth inning to down the Patriots 6-4.
Fort Frye took advantage of three South errors in the pivotal fourth to take the lead and then got some outstanding pitching from starter Devin Layton and reliever Seth Miller to hold off the Patriots.
“We are not the greatest hitting team one through nine but I thought we executed pretty good tonight,” said Fort Frye head coach Rob Nelson. “We got our bunts down and moved runners into scoring position and then when they helped us out a little bit we took advantage.”
The Patriots loaded the bases in the opening inning but couldn’t get a run across against Layton while the Cadets scratched out a run to take the early 1-0 lead.
Centerfielder Luke Nelson opened the inning with a basehit off of South starting pitcher Grant Hussey and moved to second when catcher Nate Brothers walked.
Hussey struggled through a bit of wildness in the opening frame as he hit both Draeden Turner and Matt Duskey to force in the first run of the game.
Parkersburg South drew even in the top of the third inning when shortstop Blake McMullen singled and then stole both second and third before scoring on an RBI single by Drew Cochran.
Fort Frye took full advantage of some wildness by Hussey and some less than spectacular Patriot defense to score five times in the last of the fourth.
Brenden Huck got things going by drawing a base-on-balls and after Layton laid down a sacrifice bunt, Zane Greenleaf worked Hussey for a walk as well.
Nelson tried to bunt both runners into scoring position but managed to do a whole lot more as he beat out the bunt at first and when the throw sailed wide and down the right field line, both Huck and Greenleaf raced home to give the Cadets a 3-1 lead.
Shortstop Tate Engle became the third Cadet to be hit by a pitch in the game and both runners came into score on back-to-back errors by the South defense which committed four in the game.
“It seems like that is what we have been doing here lately is trying to scratch back into a ball game after we get ourselves behind,” said South head coach Todd Burner. “It just seemed like a roller-coaster and one error after another and those were routine plays that we should be able to make.”
Layton was cruising along with the five-run cushion until the senior left hander ran into trouble in the top of the sixth.
Dalton Turner led off the inning by working a walk before back-to-back singles by Jared Clemente and Nathan Currey cut the Cadet lead to 6-2.
Colin Bryant drew a walk and when the fourth ball sailed all the way to the backstop, Clemente came into scored the second run of the inning.
Nelson had went to the mound prior to Bryant’s at-bat but elected to leave Layton in the game.
“Devin pitched a wonderful ballgame and he wanted to keep going but I think he got a little tired at the end,” said Nelson.
Miller relieved Layton and got Nick Yoho to ground into a fielders choice as the fourth Patriot of the game scored before retiring the final five batters of the game in order to secure the win and earn a save.
“He’s (Miller) one of those kids who put a lot of work in,” said Nelson. “He came in and threw strikes and got us the win and I’m very proud of him.”
The Cadets improved to 9-5 on the season and appear to be headed for a rematch with undefeated Barnesville on Saturday, the same team that they have eliminated in the past three OVAC semi-finals.
Parkersburg South slipped to 11-10 with a game on the road at John Marshall at 5 p.m. tonight.
“Fort Frye is a good team and we always have great games against them,” said Burner. “Give them credit. This was a game that both of us needed to go the OVAC finals and they are in and we are out.”