CHILLICOTHE — According to Wheelersburg coach Derek Moore, making the journey to VA Memorial Stadium never has been, and never will be, an unwanted trip.
Chances are, his Pirates certainly agree with his thoughts on the matter.
Competing in a Division III district semifinal Friday evening, Wheelersburg used a six-run third inning to help catapult itself into the next round with an 11-1 five-inning victory over Bainbridge Paint Valley.
The Pirates (20-6) pounded out 13 hits at the dish in what Moore called “one of the best offensive days this season.” That performance came against the Bearcats’ two aces, junior Lane Mettler and sophomore Brock Blanton.
“We knew coming in that we were going to see one or both of them,” Moore. “They both throw lower to mid-80s and they both throw good breaking balls. That’s what we worked on this week. We had different people throwing off the mounds and we worked on hitting faster speeds. I thought today was one of our best hitting performances of the year.”
On the contrary, the Bearcats (18-11) couldn’t figure out Wheelersburg’s Trey Carter.
The senior southpaw tossed all five innings, allowing just three hits. What’s peculiar about his performance was that he didn’t strike out a single batter … and his defense didn’t commit a single error.
“He’ll even tell you he didn’t have his best stuff today,” Moore said. “He gave up one in the second and kept the damage there. He did a good job commanding the zone. Paint Valley is a good hitting team and Trey did a good job keeping them in check. It helps when you play good defense like we did today. That’s what we want to hang out hat on.”
Wheelersburg struck first after Jalen Miller notched an RBI groundout for a 1-0 lead. However, Paint Valley countered with a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Hunter Hamlin to tie things in the top of the second.
The Pirates retook the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the third following a bunt that resulted in a throwing error, scoring Athan Temponeras all the way from first base.
That began the complete downfall of the Bearcats.
Two batters later with a pair of runners on, Trey Carter cleared the bases with a 2-run triple to left field. He later scored on a fielding error that extended the lead to 5-1.
The next three batters (Will Darling, Cole Ratcliff and Athan Temponeras) each ripped RBI singles, pushing the Pirate lead to 8-1.
Wheelersburg added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth via a 2-run single from Cooper McKenzie. It tallied the final run in the fifth after Miller ripped a sacrifice fly to right field to cap the game.
Carter was 2-for-3 at the dish with a triple, two runs and two RBIs alongside his pitching win. McKenzie finished with two RBIs, and four other Pirates each added an RBI.
Wheelersburg advances to a Division III district championship contest, where they’ll meet with Williamsport Westfall at 1:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon at VA Memorial Stadium.
“Westfall is ranked in the state right now and that’s a good program,” Moore said. “Good arms, everything like that. We’re going to have to play our best.”
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