By CODY LEIST
PDT Sports Writer
WHEELERSBURG — Before Friday’s home game against Oak Hill, Wheelersburg coach Michael Estep told his team one important thing.
“I don’t want them to take it for granted,” Estep said.
That ‘it’ he was refering to was the recent history of success. The Pirates needed a win over the Oaks to claim the SOC II outright.
For the first five innings, Oak Hill led 8-2 thanks to 11 walks and looked to have the major upset in sight. But a rally by Wheelersburg in its final two at-bats spoiled the shocker as the Pirates won 9-8.
“I’m really proud for these guys, especially for our seniors,” Estep said.
Things didn’t look promising for Wheelersburg at the start. Brett Hood walked four of the first five batters to start the game.
“Their pitchers struggled with strikes,” Oaks coach Jason Wright said.
All four scored to give Oak Hill the 4-0 lead before the Pirates’ first chance to swing the bats. Hood walked the first two batters in the second and was lifted in favor of Dylan Miller.
Wheelersburg recorded its first two hits of the game with back-to-back singles to start the second. Alex Shears, who bunted his way to first, scored the lone run in the frame when Clay Massie knocked him in with the third single of the inning.
The top of the third resembled the top of the first as the first two batters for the Oaks walked. They capitalized with a pair of runs in the inning to make it 6-1.
Austin Hall, who ended an 0-for-6 streak for the top three Pirate hitters with a single in the third, scored in the same inning when Ben Arnold’s single was stretched from a two-base error.
Drew Haislop started the top of the fifth with a double to left. Four of the next six batters for Oak Hill walked and resulted in an 8-2 lead.
Wheelersburg finally knocked out Oaks starter Colton Cox in the home half of the fifth when the first three hitters reached with a hit and a fourth with a walk.
“He’s not overpowering but he hits his spots,” Wright said. “He just ran out of steam.”
Tyler Walls switched from catcher to pitcher. The Pirates figured Walls out and entered the sixth down 8-6.
Derek Moore, the fourth Wheelersburg pitcher after Zach Brown finished the fifth, shut the door in the final two frames and allowed one hit. Estep felt his junior’s experience from last year helped as he pitched the final two innings.
The first three batters in the bottom of the sixth all reached. The third runner, Arnold, scored the go-ahead run thanks to a Clay Massie two-out single.
Moore sat Oak Hill down in order in the seventh for his seventh win of the year.
“It was a character builder for our guys,” Estep said.
Despite the loss, Wright was pleased with how his team played. At the same time, the Oaks need to find a way to close games out.
“To beat teams like this, you can’t give them an inch,” Wright said.
The Pirates travel to West Portsmouth today to participate in the Rocky Nelson Wood Bat Classic. They will play Fairland at 10 a.m. with West and Rock Hill in Game Two.
The Consolation Game will be Game Three and the Championship will be the finale. Oak Hill is off until Monday when Notre Dame pays a visit.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or email@example.com.
Oak Hill 4 0 2 0 2 0 0 — 8 5 4
Wheelersburg 0 1 1 0 4 3 x — 9 12 1
Oak Hill — Waldren 0-3 (BB, R), T. Walls 1-3 (BB, R), Haislop 1-2 (2B, BB, SAC, 2 R), Boggs 0-1 (3 BB, 2 R), Kidd 1-2 (2B, 2 BB, 2 RBI, 2 R), Stiltner 2-4 (2 RBI), C. Cox 0-3 (BB, 2 RBI), Harden 0-1 (2 BB, RBI).
Wheelersburg — Boyer 2-4 (2 R), Hall 3-4 (2B, RBI, 3 R), Arnold 3-4 (RBI, 2 R), Shears 1-3 (BB, 2 R), Moore 0-3 (SAC, RBI), Carmichael 0-3 (BB), Massie 2-3 (BB, 2 RBI), Brown 1-3 (2 RBI), Miller 0-0 (BB).
W — Moore (7-0)
L — T. Walls (2-2)
Records — Oak Hill 12-12 (5-9); Wheelersburg 20-2 (13-0).