JACKSON - It was the kind of game that tournament time was made for.
A well-played, nine-inning battle between two teams with everything on the line, or at least a reserved slot in the district championship game, and the chance to play another day.
Wheelersburg would gain that chance to play with a 6-5 nine inning win over Westfall at Dick “Sparky” Haller Field in Jackson on Wednesday.
Wheelersburg got to this point by pounding River Valley 27-3 in the opening round and knocking off rival Ironton in the sectional championship game. The Pirates came into tournament play sporting a 22-2 overall record and a 14-0 perfect record in the SOC II.
Westfall came into the game looking for its third straight victory over a SOC II opponent. The Mustangs beat West in the opening round of sectional play and then shutout Northwest 5-0 in the sectional final for the right to advance.
Wheelersburg had the bases loaded with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh, but after a base running error yielded the first out, the Westfall pitcher was to get a pop up and a groundout to end the Pirate threat.
In the ninth inning the Pirates had the bases full with nobody out. After two strikeouts, Fullen gave up his sixth walk which gave Wheelersburg its sixth and the winning run.
“Our kids fought hard,” said Wheelersburg coach Michael Estep. “We hung tough, we got great pitching performances from both Adam (Wamsley) and Jordan (Russell) and they kept us in the game.”
Adam Wamsley started on the hill for the Pirates and went seven innings, giving up five runs, three earned on eight hits. He walked no one and struck out four. Wamsley was hit with a no decision.
Jordan Russell came in in relief of Wamsley and pitched two innings of shutout baseball. He gave up two hits, walking one and recorded four punch outs.
“My fastball, I was throwing for strikes,” said Wamsley. “I was coming down sidearm a little bit and my cutter and my curveball was really working good for me.”
Billy Fullen went the entire 8 2/3 for the Mustangs giving up six runs on 10 hits walking six and striking out nine.
In the home half of the sixth inning, Wamsley helped himself driving in Justin Hill which was the go-ahead run.
But Westfall answered in the top half of the seventh when the Pirate first baseman could not dig a ball out of the dirt which, allowed Shane Ferell to scamper home to send the game into extra innings.
“Maybe we didn't play our best game, but in the tournament as long as you're walking away with the win that's the most important thing,” Estep said.
Last year the Pirates rode the momentum gained during the regular season all the way to the Division III district title. They will have the same chance Friday when they match-up with the winner of the tournament's Cinderella Belpre and Zane Trace. The Pirates defeated the Pioneers last season to advance to the regional round of the state tournament.
BRET BEVENS can be reached at (740)-353-3101 ext. 243
Westfall 201 100 100 - 5 7 2
Wheelersburg 100 211 001 - 6 10 2
WP: Jordan Russell; LP: Billy Fullen
Westfall - Tyler Cobb 2-4; Shane Ferell 2-4, RBI.
Wheelersburg - Adam Wamsley 3-5, RBI, 2B; Bryan White 3-5, 2 RBI, 3B; Dustin Cook 3-3.
Record - Wheelersburg 25-2