WHEELING - Aaron Fonner smashed four singles and drove in six runs and Todd Schmidt belted three doubles as John Marshall prevailed, 15-8, in a slugfest with Wheeling Central on Monday at the J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex.
The victory was huge for the Monarchs (11-10), who are in a battle for the fourth and final spot in the Class 5A portion of the OVAC Baseball Tournament.
Sunday's standings released by the conference had John Marshall in fourth behind Cambridge, Morgantown and Parkersburg South. The top four teams will play in the semifinals, which will take place Saturday at the Monarchs' home field. Qualifiers will be determined following Wednesday's games.
PHOTO BY RICK THORP
John Marshall starting pitcher Aaron Fonner rocks and fires during action of the Monarchs’ 15-8 victory against Wheeling Central on Monday.
''We wanted to bounce back from a tough loss (to Linsly) Saturday,'' said Montgomery, whose squad visits Cambridge today and plays host to Steubenville on Wednesday.
John Marshall scored seven runs through two innings and led 8-2 before the Maroon Knights (4-9) rallied to cut the lead to one by scoring five runs in the fourth. But, JM came back with six runs in the fifth to regain control for good.
''I was really happy with the way we fought back,'' Wheeling Central coach Jim Wodusky said following the nearly 3-hour contest. ''We strung some hits together, but then our pitching kind of fell apart.''
It certainly wasn't a day for pitchers on either side. The teams combined to rap 24 hits.
''Aaron has really hit well for us all year,'' Montgomery said. ''He and Todd really hit the ball well.''
Schmidt doubled and Fonner cleared the bases with a single as the Monarchs scored three in the first inning.
John Marshall batted around in the second in plating four runs. Schmidt doubled again, while Zach Winland recorded a sacrifice fly.
''We put them on base and when you give them a bunch of free bases they'll make you pay,'' Wodusky said. ''And they made us pay.''
Wheeling Central loaded the bases in the second and third, but came away with just two runs. In the fourth, however, it broke through.
With two outs, Patrick Biega had one of his team-high three singles that scored Anthony Tighe and Mic Keys to trim the deficit to 8-4.
Ian Yahnke followed with another single that plated Derek Yocke to make the score 8-5. Nate Bakaitis then doubled to the fence in center to bring in Thomas Stanley, pinch running for Biega, and Yahnke to make it an 8-7 game.
That prompted Montgomery to replace Fonner on the mound with Schmidt, who struck out Gast to end the inning.
''I knew Central would fight back,'' Montgomery said. ''I'm really pleased we came right back like we did.''
Jake Lucas led off JM's half of the sixth with a single. And from there, the Monarchs' next seven batters reached base. The big blow came with Tyler West's two-RBI double.
''Todd (Schmidt) came in and threw strikes and we couldn't battle back twice,'' Wodusky said.
''We left those bases loaded, which hurt us. But, we're learning. We had a nice week at the (Charleston) Catholic Tournament and we hit the ball well.
''I think we've made some advancements in our talent (this past week). I think we've gotten better.''