WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg bats helped push the Pirates in front of — and way ahead of — — visiting Waverly in both teams’ season opener on Monday.
Each Pirate in their hitting lineup — seven sophomores and a pair of seniors in Hunter Thomas and Cooper McKenzie — reached base at least twice in their 13-3 victory in six innings.
Leading the Tigers 6-3, Wheelersburg hung seven runs in the home half of the sixth to end the cold-weather SOC II contest a bit early.
“A little shaky at the start, able to scratch in a run in the first and a few more in the third. Coach Noble and Waverly always going to compete — they made things tight in the sixth with bases loaded and able to get a run in,” Wheelersburg coach Derek Moore said, afterwards. “I told our guys we wanted to keep at it in the box. Everyone knows in the game of baseball that one-half inning can make the difference. Was really happy to see us step up in the sixth and put it away against a quality club.”
McKenzie got the Pirates scoring started in the sixth with a two-run home run to left field to push ‘Burg ahead 8-3.
Cole Estep, Landon Hutchinson, and Creed Warren each picked up an RBI in the sixth (two for Hutchinson), before McKenzie ended the game with an RBI-single to push the Pirates to their 13th run.
McKenzie and Hutchinson each had a team-high three RBI for Wheelersburg.
Thomas earned the win on the hill for ‘Burg, pitching four innings and allowing no earned runs, two hits, six walks and striking out six in the season opener.
Connor Estep allowed two hits and one earned run in two innings of relief of Thomas.
Waverly took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as a pair of Pirate errors led to an early Tiger lead.
Isaac Bockway — who reached in three of his four trips to the plate as the Pirates’ cleanup hitter — drove in Warren with an RBI-single to put the Pirates on the board in the bottom of the first.
In the top of the third and later in the fifth, Wheelersburg used inning-ending double plays to eliminate Waverly threats on the basepaths.
“For the most part with a couple errors, thought it was a good day for our defense and pitching. Happy to get four innings out of Hunter with his pitch count getting up — good way to start his season and I know he’ll want to get better and keep at it throughout the year,” Moore said. “Some big-time double plays to help keep them in check.”
Wheelersburg collected 11 hits on the day and drew seven walks.
The Pirates (1-0) have a busy week ahead — facing Greenup County and Ironton at home on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, traveling to South Webster on Wednesday (SOC II game), and a trip to VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe for a game versus Fort Loramie on Saturday.
“Proud of our guys. Everyone knows we’re a pretty young team starting seven sophomores with our two seniors. In our couple of scrimmages, we just wanted our guys to get reps, that being really important in the early season,” Moore said. “Busy week with Greenup Co. tomorrow (Tuesday), back in league play with Webster on Wednesday, Ironton here on Thursday, and Fort Loramie on Saturday at the VA. Lot of baseball to be played, excited to start the season off with a win and keep this thing going.”
Waverly: 2 0 0 0 0 1 — 3 4 3
Wheelersburg: 1 0 5 0 0 7 — 13 11 3
W: Thomas (Wheelersburg); L: Boles (Waverly)
Creed Warren 1-3, R, BB, RBI
Connor Estep 2-4, RBI, 2R
Cooper McKenzie 2-4, BB, 3RBI, HR, 2R
Isaac Bockway 3-4, 2RBI, R
Jake Darling 1-2, BB, HBP, SB, 2R
Cole Estep 1-3, BB, RBI, R
Hunter Thomas 0-2, 2RBI, 2BB, R
Caden Conn 0-2, 2BB, R
Landon Hutchinson 1-2, 3RBI, BB, 2R
Hunter Thomas: 4IP, 6K, 6BB, 2H, 0ER (W)
Connor Estep: 2IP, 3K, 1BB, 2H, 1ER
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved