CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Playing in a district semifinal game at the historic V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio is a goal of every high school baseball team in the Southeast District. Just playing in the game brings honor to a team and a dominant showing in the game brings not only further honor to a team, but an immense amount of momentum in the process.
The Wheelersburg Pirates dominated the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs Wednesday evening, May 18, 2016 in an OHSAA Division III Southeast District Semifinal game, 8-0. With the win, Wheelersburg will move on to play in the district finals Friday evening.
The first couple innings went by quick with neither team being able to score. The Mustangs got one hit, a single, in the first inning before going down in order to two ground balls and a fly ball to center in the second inning.
Wheelersburg threatened in both innings. In the first, Jordan Howard was tagged out at third base as he tried to get 90 feet away from scoring. In the second inning, Kyle Jenkins found himself on third before Lynchburg-Clay was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the third, Wheelersburg was able to finally get to the Mustangs scoring two runs after a two-RBI single by Kaden Coleman, to help his own cause.
After three innings, the Pirates held a 2-0 lead over the Mustangs.
The fourth inning brought more runs across the plate for Wheelersburg.
Cole Darnell and Cole Dyer started the fourth inning with singles for the Pirates. Brandon Denney then reached safely after an error. The trio would all cross home to score for Wheelerburg, giving the Pirates a 5-0 lead over the Mustangs.
Wheelersburg’s bats came alive again in the sixth inning, as the Pirates added another three runs. Howard, Chance Holbrook and Jenkins scored increasing Wheelersburg’s lead to 8-0.
The Pirates held off the Mustangs in order to finalize the win and advance to the district final round.
“I really liked the way Kaden Coleman went out and set the tone for us on the mound today,” Wheelersburg baseball coach Michael Estep said. “He pounded the strikezone from the beginning of the game until we brought him out in the sixth.”
The Wheelersburg junior went six complete innings for the Pirates Wednesday. He didn’t allow any runs and only gave up four hits. Coleman struck out five batters and didn’t issue any walks, showing great command on the mound.
“He’s been solid for us all year and he always has,” Estep said.
Trey Carter came in to relieve Coleman in the seventh inning, making short work of the Mustangs. Carter faced three batters and struck out two of those three. The left-handed pitcher was also involved in the other out of the inning, as he threw out a batter at first.
Coleman, Brandon Denney and Kyle Jenkins all had a pair of RBIs in the game for Wheelersburg.
Coleman helped his own cause in the third inning with a two-RBI single. Coleman finished the game hitting 2-for-4.
Denney earned a pair of RBIs when he reached safely after a throwing error in the fourth inning. Denney was 0-for-3 to finish the night.
Jenkins drove in a pair of runs in the sixth inning with a one-out stand-up triple. He reached base safely each time he came to the plate, drawing three walks before hitting the triple. He would also later score a run in the inning.
Coleman got a lot of assistance from the Wheelersburg fielders. Kyle Davis and Darnell each had big stops to prevent Lynchburg-Clay runners.
Darnell recorded the final out in the fifth inning after running down a foul ball and crashing into the fence running down the right side of the field.
“We were able to make some plays tonight,” Estep said. “A few guys made some good plays. Cole Darnell made some good plays at first base and Kyle Davis made a good backhand play out there for us. We were sound on the defensive side.”
Wheelersburg returns to the V.A. Memorial Stadium Friday evening to play for a district championship. The Pirates will face the Adena Warriors of Frankfort, Ohio.
Estep noted the history between Wheelersburg and Adena in postseason tournament play.
“We’ve faced them many times here in these district and regional rounds,” Estep said. “They have a great tradition up here.”
While the Pirates did stay to scout Adena during their district semifinal game, Estep said his team will still mainly focus on themselves for Friday’s game.
“More than anything else, we always just try to worry about our own business,” Estep said. “If we can find a few things to help us out, especially on the defensive side a little bit and maybe running some bases and things. We may try and do that, but ultimately it comes down to throwing strikes, making routine plays and timely hitting.”
Friday’s district championship game has a 6:00 p.m. first pitch.
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931, or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.