WHEELERSBURG — It didn’t start well for the Pirates Wednesday evening. Minford had an early runner on base in Ian Tolle in the first inning, and then Eli Daniels belted his third home run of the year over the fences to give them a quick 2-0 lead.
The Falcons came back in the third inning with more offensive firepower. The Alley brothers both batted in runs in the inning, and another run would score off the bat of Matthew Gullett. The visiting Minford fans were loud and excited as they took a 5-1 lead over the defending SOC II champions.
They would soon quiet, though.
Wheelersburg would score a run in the bottom off the third, coming off an RBI from senior leader Kyle Davis.
The Pirates loaded the bases in the fourth inning, which resulted in a big, momentum-shifting rally that would be the difference in the ball game. The middle of the lineup responded for Burg, as Kyle Jenkins, Kaden Coleman, and Xander Carmichael all produced runs for the Pirates. They scored four runs, taking a 6-5 lead.
Kaden Coleman entered the ballgame in relief of his brother, Caleb, in the fourth inning. He was superb, giving up no hits, a single walk, and recording three strike outs in four innings on the mound. His pitching and the shift of momentum seemed to limit Minford for the rest of the game.
“Sometimes you go out on the mound and don’t have your best stuff,” admitted Wheelersburg Head Coach Michael Estep. “Fortunately, his brother came in and picked him up. I told Kaden after the game to make sure he gives his brother a hug and let him know to keep his chin up.”
The Pirates always seem to have a mystique about them, especially on their home fields. Perhaps it is the history of success, or a bit of intimidation, but whatever is going on mentally for the opposition Estep credits his players’ hard work and dedication.
“(Eli) Daniels came out and did what a leader is supposed to do for them early,” said Estep. “He got them going, and I challenged our guys in the dugout after that. Their middle of the lineup produced for them so I told our guys they have to do the same. I really think they met that challenge, especially the second time through the batting order.
“Our guys went out and scored, but we knew that no lead is safe with the hitters they have. I’m really proud on how they kept their composure, after being down 5-1 they battled back. Our guys really try to play the game the right way. We aren’t playing for huge innings, we want to get guys on and move people around and keep chipping. It’s been our mantra: we throw strikes, make routine plays, and move people from station to station.”
Wheelersburg is now 13-4 on the season and will go into Minford Friday to finish the series against their conference rivals.
“I expect to go into Minford Friday for a battle once again. I’ve known Coach Daniels since I was in high school and he’s always been a competitor. I’ve always respected the way he has played and coached the game. I’m glad he’s getting to see his son’s senior season through, with him. He’s meant so much to the Minford community, and you have to really appreciate guys like that.”
Minford hopes to turn it around in the next game. After taking the 5-1 lead, Coach Daniels knows they have to change a few things when they host the Pirates.
“Alex threw well for us, but he ran into a little control issue,” admitted Minford Head Coach Brent Daniels. “We also have to be a bit more selective at the plate. After the fourth inning we were off balance, and couldn’t seem to get the break we needed. It really came down to a few mistakes we made.”
First pitch for Friday’s game is 5:00 p.m. in Minford.