CHILLICOTHE — With multiple chances to capitalize on scoring chances, Wheelersburg kept hitting the ball right on the button Saturday afternoon.
But each and every time that happened, Westfall’s defense seemed to reach up its sleeve and pull out an answer.
The Mustangs used the stellar defensive performance, combined it with a pitching gem from Eric Corzatt, and handed the Pirates a tough-luck 2-1 loss in a Division III district final at VA Memorial Stadium.
“Westfall is a really good baseball team,” Wheelersburg coach Derek Moore said. “Credit to them and Corzatt for keeping our hitters off-balance and making big plays in the field when they needed to. They played a great ballgame all-around.”
Corzatt tossed all seven innings, allowing just five hits and throwing just 85 pitches.
“I knew [Wheelersburg] had a lot of good hitters coming in,” Corzatt said. “That’s a great hitting team. So I tried to work ahead on each batter, really tried to hit my spots and keep them off-balance. Just mixing up different looks worked and, of course, I let me defense work.”
Meanwhile, Wheelersburg’s Jalen Miller turned in a pitching performance that was strong enough to win most games. The senior churned out seven innings, allowing eight hits and striking out eight hitters.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough in a one-run loss — one that ended the Pirates’ season.
“This year was a good one. It’s not what we wanted at all but when we look back at it in a few days, I hope the boys are proud,” Moore said. “It’s probably the toughest schedule this program has had and we battled through adversity and found ways to win games. The conference was probably the best it’s been from top to bottom in awhile and we were fortunate enough to win that. So there’s a lot of things to be proud of.”
The Mustangs (23-4) got on the board first when Jayden Hammond doubled to bring Matt Baemel, who had singled earlier, making it 1-0 in the top of the second inning.
Wheelersburg finally tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when Brady Warren knocked in a run with a two-out single. But in the top of the sixth, Westfall retook a one-run lead when Zach Gibson, pinch-running for Jayden Hammond, scored on an RBI single from Eric Corzatt.
In the bottom of the sixth, Westfall’s defense came through for the final time.
Wheelersburg loaded the bases with just an out. But a line drive off the bat of Athan Temponeras found Jay Wyman’s glove at second base. Wyman turned to the bag, flipped the ball to shortstop Brayton Felger and doubled up a runner, ending the threat.
For the Pirates (20-7), Miller was 2-for-3 at the plate, Warren was 1-for-2 with an RBI, and Case Dyer scored the Pirates’ run.
Corzatt also made a difference at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI while Hammond finished 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and an RBI.
While the Mustangs advance, the Pirates are forced to say goodbye to six seniors in Miller, Temponeras, Trent Salyers, Justin Salyers, Trey Carter, and Connor Mullins.
“The seniors this year were great. They’ll be missed a ton,” Moore said. “They did whatever it took to put us in a position to win and I’m forever proud of them for that. This is my first senior class as a head coach and I will remember these guys for the rest of my life. They will hold a special place in my heart and will definitely be missed on, and off, the field in the our program.”
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