CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — The Wheelersburg Pirates have done it again, for the ninth consecutive season, the Pirates have captured an OHSAA Division III Southeast District Championship. Wheelersburg claimed their latest district conquest by defeating the Adena Warriors, 1-0.
“Wow, this was not the way you draw it up probably for a district championship in terms of the weather and things, but I thought both teams persevered really well,” Wheelersburg baseball coach, Michael Estep said.
The weather was anything but cooperative Friday evening in Chillicothe. A light rain began to fall early in the game and progressively gained in intensity throughout the game.
“I’m really proud of the way the kids battled and hung in there,” Estep said. “We got one run and I guess that was good enough today.”
Sometimes one run is all a team needs and that was the case for Wheelersburg.
The Pirates scored the one and only run of the game in the bottom of the first inning.
Jordan Howard started off the Pirates side of the first inning by drawing a walk after working a full count. Chance Holbrook came up to the plate and hit a single to advance Howard into scoring position.
With a runner in scoring position, Kyle Davis made Adena pitcher JD Blevins second-guess his pitch as the Pirate drove in the game’s only run with an RBI single.
That run was all Wheelersburg needed to defeat the Adena Warriors and advance to the regional semifinal round.
The Pirates had another outstanding performance on the mound Friday evening from Chance Holbrook. The Wheelersburg senior pitched six shutout innings against Adena, giving up only five hits. Holbrook walked two batters and hit one with a pitch. He also showed off some shut-down power against Adena ringing up seven Warriors with strikeouts.
“Chance was great,” Estep said.
Estep decided to go to Kaden Coleman in the seventh inning after Holbrook issued his second walk of the night. Coleman was the winning pitcher from Wednesday night’s district semifinal game against Lynchburg-Clay.
Coleman entered a one-run game with a runner on first base and no outs. Coleman struck out the first batter he faced and then popped up the next batter to get two quick outs for the Pirates. Coleman then walked Hayden Henness after the Adena center fielder worked a full count.
Still needing one out to close the game, Coleman found himself in another full count with Warriors third baseman Collin Cory, before getting a called third strike to end the game.
JD Blevins was the pitcher of record for Adena. He faced 22 batters in his six innings of work. The Adena pitcher gave up one run, which was earned, off two hits. He walked two batters and struck out eight in the loss.
“The job that their guy (Blevins) did on the mound today, you know, mixing pitches and being able to throw all of his effectively early in the count, pitching backwards and keeping us off balance a little bit, I thought he competed very, very well,” Estep said.
The Pirates had two hits Friday, both in the first inning, which was just enough to get the win over Adena. Wheelersburg two hits came back-to-back by Holbrook and Davis.
Holbrook finished the night going 1-for-3 at the plate, as he tried to aid his own cause, while Davis also went 1-for-3, earning the game’s only RBI.
“Kyle got down in the count there, but had a great at-bat,” Estep said. “He drove a ball into right field and then Jordan was able to scamper home. That’s exactly how you draw up the beginning of a game.”
The Warriors collected five hits on the night.
Braden Wilburn led Adena with two hits, going 2-for-3 at the plate.
Jonathon Thomas was the only Warrior to reach third base, doing so twice. He was stranded on third after drawing a walk in the fourth inning and then hit a one-out triple in the sixth inning. Thomas finished with a 1-for-2 plate performance.
Despite the nasty weather conditions, the game only saw one error, a throwing error by Adena in the first inning.
“Even in tough conditions, both teams played pretty clean on defense,” Estep said. “When they had chances to make plays on defense they did.”
Xander Carmichael made several great stops behind the plate for Wheelersburg. As the rain continued to fall throughout the game, pitchers from both teams were having issues maintaining good grips on the ball which caused a few to fly high, wide, or both as they headed toward home plate.
Carmichael stopped two pitches that missed their target in the seventh inning, which if they had gotten by the Wheelersburg catcher, would have certainly seen JD Blevins advance to third base and potentially score to tie the game.
“Xander did a great job behind the plate tonight,” Estep said.
Wheelersburg advances to the regional semifinal round, where they will play the Hiland Hawks of Berlin, Ohio.
Estep said his team will focus on fundamentals in their downtime until the Thursday, May 26 game.
“We’re just going to go to work,” Estep said. “We’re going to go back and work on fundamental stuff. That’s what tournament baseball is and that’s how both teams gave themselves a chance to win today. You go back and work on the fundamentals and you throw and catch while trying to find a way to get some guys some confidence.”
The regional semifinal game between Wheelersburg and Hiland will be played at V.A. Memorial Stadium, May 26. First pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.