WHEELERSBURG — Simply put, the Pirates pulled off an epic —and indeed dramatic —final at-bat.
Thus, the Wheelersburg High School squad remained undefeated in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II —as it scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on Friday for a colossal 3-1 victory over the visiting and upset-minded West Senators at Gene Bennett Park.
Kiera Kennard came up with the heroics — hammering an 0-2 pitch over the fence for a two-run home run and the walk-off win.
And, a win that moved the Pirates to a league-leading 8-0 in the SOC II, part of 12-1 overall.
With the loss, the Senators fell to 9-7 —and 4-5 inside the division.
However, West — after playing the Pirates tough for three early innings in Wheelersburg’s season opener on April 2 — was within an eyelash of the upset of the season.
Trailing 1-0 after the Senators scored a run in their opening at-bat, Wheelersburg was staring a stunning loss directly in the face —after not scoring and only amassing one hit until then, which was a Sydney Skiver second-stanza single with one out.
In the seventh, and against West standout pitcher Sydney McDermott, Macee Eaton singled to lead off —and two batters later attempted and successfully pulled off a delayed steal as West made an error.
Eaton advanced to third base, and then scored on an Andi Jo Howard squeeze bunt — combined with another Senator miscue.
With Howard advancing to second on that error, and the game tied at 1-1, Kennard — next up with one out — clobbered her home run to score both herself and Howard.
Prior to the seventh, the only Wheelersburg baserunners off McDermott were Skiver in the second, Howard who was hit by a pitch in the fifth, and Haley Myers who walked with two outs in the sixth.
Both Howard and Myers made it to second base by stealing second, but it wasn’t until Eaton crossed that the Pirates plated a run —after amassing 15 on the Senators in five innings in the opening meeting.
McDermott, in the tough-luck complete-game pitching loss, allowed two earned runs and struck out five Pirates in throwing 61 pitches.
She retired the Pirates 1-2-3 in innings one, three and four —and faced four batters apiece in the second, fifth and sixth.
Howard, who matched McDermott in the circle, had the complete-game win while throwing a two-hit gem of her own.
She fired 88 pitches, allowing the first-frame West point while walking three and striking out 11 Senators.
Emma Sayre, West’s leadoff hitter, was one of those trio of walks — as she scored on the combination of her free pass, a Maelynn Howell sacrifice bunt, and a one-out McDermott single.
But Howard importantly escaped further damage — stranding McDermott at second and after walking Abi Boland in the inning.
From there, Howard retired the Senators 1-2-3 in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh —while facing four batters apiece in the third and fifth with a two-out walk by Kate Rollins in the third and a two-out single by Sayre in the fifth.
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