WHEELERSBURG — For those thinking we were bound for a spring filled with sunny 70-degree days, that thinking back-fired starting beginning the middle of this week.
Rain and cold-weather hampered games around southern Ohio on Wednesday, but not in Pirate Country.
Wheelersburg opened up their home and Southern Ohio Conference Division II season hosting Valley as both teams battled the less-than-ideal baseball conditions.
The Pirates won the contest 9-0 and allowed just six Indian base runners, doing their heavy-lifting in the scoring column in the game’s middle innings.
‘Burg coach Derek Moore said it was great to be back on their home field playing games for the first time since the tail-end of the 2019 season — after last year’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It feels awesome being back here playing home games, having the fans come back. Great to open up conference play against a good opponent,” Moore said. “They’re no slouch. Even though we won 9-0, I think they’re going to compete with a lot of teams this year and are a threat to make a deep run. Really pleased with how we came out and swung the bats.”
The Pirates’ offense — and pitching — were buoyed by their seniors, mainly Ethan Ison.
Ison got the win on the mound as he threw six innings, allowed just two hits and walks apiece, and struck out nine Indian hitters.
From the fifth position in ‘Burg’s batting lineup, Ison also reached-base in each of his four at-bats — a double to lead off things in the second inning, a 3-run home run in the fourth to give his Pirates a 8-0 lead, and twice reaching first via hit-by-pitch.
“He was the man that did it all today, threw six strong innings. With a day like this and how cold it is, to get six innings in is tough,” Moore said. “He battled, did a really good job of controlling the strike zone. Went 2-for-2 with a double, home run and two HBP — it really helps us out when he helps himself like he did today.”
Wheelersburg (2-1, 1-0 SOC II) struck out just four times on the day, three of those coming in the sixth inning after sophomore Carter Nickel entered the game in relief of Devin Wiley.
Wiley surrendered the three-run homer to Ison, relieving senior Breckon Williams who was credited with the loss after pitching two and two-thirds innings.
In total, the Pirates collected six hits, were hit-by-pitch four times, and drew six walks.
Senior Case Dyer went 2-of-3 from the plate with a pair of singles, Chase Conley had two RBI on a walk and sac-fly to center field, and Eric Green went 1-of-3 from ‘Burg’s leadoff position.
Cooper McKenzie reached base three times after the first inning, scoring runs each of those times for a game-high three runs scored.
“We hit over in our maintenance building today and we told them not to let the weather or temperature phase them. ‘This is your home opener and conference opener, need to come out and put together good at-bats,’” Moore said, of his message on hitting in cold weather. “And I think we did that. Thought we hit the ball to all parts of the field, proud of the way they showed up engaged and ready to get better.”
Valley senior Andrew Andronis and junior Landon Jones each went 1-of-2 at the plate with a walk drawn as the lone Indians to reach base on more than one occasion.
Valley (1-2, 1-1 SOC II) is set to host Northwest on Friday seeking their second league win in three tries this campaign.
For the Pirates, they travel to Portsmouth West on Friday for their first road league game. Moore’s hoping that with another cold weather day in the forecast, his team’s bats are there to warm things up a little once again.
“Friday travelling to the West Side for another big conference game. With everyone being off last year, you don’t really know what you’re going to get in the conference,” Moore said. “We definitely have to come out play ball, swing like we did today, play some good defense and hopefully good things will happen.”
Valley: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 3
Wheelersburg: 0 1 4 3 0 1 X — 9 6 0
W: Ison (W), L: Williams (V)
Eric Green 1-3, BB
Case Dyer 2-3, 2 runs
Cooper McKenzie 0-1, 2BB, 2 runs
Braden Horr 0-2, RBI, BB, 1 run
Gabe Welch 0-1
Ethan Ison 2-2, 4RBI, 2 runs
Chase Conley 0-2, 2RBI
Mason Montgomery 0-2, BB
DJ Horton 0-1, RBI
Connor Estep 1-1, RBI, BB
Hunter Thomas 0-2
Creed Warren 0-1
Andrew Andronis 1-2, BB
George Arnett 0-3
Breckon Williams 0-3
Hunter Edwards 0-3
Austin McIntosh 0-2
Nick Mowery 0-1
Blake Wood 0-2
Wesley Holbrook 0-0, BB
Carter Nickel 0-2
Jace Copley 0-0, BB
Landon Jones 1-2, BB
Christopher Queen 0-2
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved