WHEELERSBURG — It wasn’t your typical five runs, but the Wheelersburg Pirates made it happen during Friday’s 5-4 comeback victory over Minford in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II contest.
It was the second meeting between the two clubs during the regular season — their first being a 10-5 Falcon victory back on April 14.
Pirate senior Lane Hutchinson drew a bases loaded, two-out walk to win the game for ‘Burg in the seventh — and officially clinch at-least a share of their second-straight SOC II championship.
And with Valley’s 2-1 victory over Waverly on Monday, that clinched an outright share of the league title for the Pirates who finish the regular season 13-3 in league play.
“‘This is what you’ve been working for, a moment where you can win the SOC championship on the field — we wouldn’t want anyone else in the box,‘“Wheelersburg coach Derek Moore said, of his conversation with Hutchinson prior to his at-bat. “Our only senior, he looked at me and said he’s got it. I’m super proud and happy for him, even more for our guys and the resiliency they show.”
It was Hutchinson’s younger brother, Landon, who was one of several Pirates that put Lane in position to earn the walk-off win.
Rehabbing from an injury suffered in football season, Hutchinson singled with a runner at second in the seventh.
A play at the plate got the leadoff runner to preserve a 4-3 Minford lead, but Landon Hutchinson, by being aggressive on the bases, forced an errant throw from home to third base as he was sliding in.
The younger Hutchinson got to his feet and made his way back to home on the very same play he singled on, diving head first to score the game-tying run after the Minford error.
“I thought his first couple of at-bats were really good, fly out and drew a walk, then gets the single back-side,” Moore said. “To be able to play heads up baseball, create some havoc — I’m glad that guy’s on our team because he made something happen and kept the game alive for us.”
Junior Jake Darling brought the Pirates within a run with one swing of the bat in the home half of the fourth.
Trailing 4-0 after a fast Falcon start, Darling sent a ball over the right center field fence with a pair of runners aboard for a three-run home run.
“We finally feel like he’s starting to hit his stride at the plate,” Moore said, of Darling. “Was great for us on the mound. Kind of took matters into his own hands with that swing. Got a ball up in the zone and took it out of the yard. Our guys never panicked.
Minford collected six hits and plated each of their four runs in the first three innings — including three in the top of the third.
Senior Aodhan Queen delivered an RBI single in the third, followed by a two RBI single by junior Mason Book to put the Falcons ahead 4-0.
In the top of the first, an RBI double by Grant Wheeler scored junior Carson Cronin after Cronin led the top of the first with a leadoff single.
“I thought we started off fantastic, kids were ready to play and locked in I have no doubt about that,” Minford coach Eli Daniels said, after the game. “We just hit atom balls, some lazy fly balls but a lot of balls right at them. Give credit to their kids, they made some really good plays. It just comes down to timely hitting, pitching. They had some timely hitting today.”
Wheelersburg will host Zane Trace on Wednesday, May 10 in a non-league contest.
Minford travels to Circleville to face the Tigers in a non-league contest on Tuesday, May 9.
Minford 103 000 0 — 4 6 1
Wheelersburg 000 300 2 — 5 7 0
W: Jake Darling (W) 7IP, 5H, 4ER, 2K, 2BB; L: Cole Borland (M) 6.1IP, 7H, 5ER, 3BB, 5K
Carson Cronin 2-3, 2R
Grant Wheeler 2-4, R
Aodhan Queen 1-3, R
Mason Book 1-3
JD Matiz 0-2, BP
Rhyan Queen 0-1, 2BB
Connor Estep 0-3, BB
Caden Conn 1-4, R
Isaac Bockway 1-3, R
Lane Hutchinson 0-3, BB, RBI
Creed Warren 1-2
Jake Darling 1-3, 3-run HR, 3RBI
Kolten Salyers 1-3
Landon Hutchinson 1-2, R, BB
Rowdy Watkins 1-3, R
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved