WELLSBURG-A heavy downpour during the top of the seventh at least temporarily delayed Wheeling Park's opportunity to scoot by top-seeded John Marshall into the driver's seat in the West Virginia Section One, Class AAA baseball tournament at the Brooke High School diamond.
The game was suspended with the Patriots having scored four runs to take a 7-2 lead on the Monarchs and will be completed this afternoon at 5. The loser will have turn around and take the field again and face the host Bruins in an elimination game.
Should Park retain its lead, Coach Mike McLeod's team will next play at 5 p.m. Friday against the survivor of this afternoon's second contest. The Patriots would have to lose twice to be denied the sectional title. In the event another game is necessary, it would be played at noon on Saturday.
Fourteen walks were issued by John Marshall starter Josh McKown, who was relieved by Todd Schmidt in the top of the fifth and then returned to the mound in the sixth inning.
Cameron Amend opened the top of the first with a walk, advanced to third on back-to-back wild pitches and scored when Ethan Jacobs dropped a single into left field.
The Monarchs, winners in a couple of tight games against Wheeling Park during the regular season, tied it the second inning after Aaron Fonner led off with a double and eventually crossed the plate on Shane Wellman's infield bounce out.
Jesse Hartley walked with the bases load in the top of the third to put Park back in front, but John Marshall forged a 2-2 tie during its half of the inning thanks to a wild pitch after singles by Johnny Cochran and Schmidt.
McKown threw 123 pitches in his first 4 1/3 innings, including another bases-loaded pass to Trevor Stewart. Schmidt then was brought in to finish the fifth inning and he kept the Monarchs within a run by striking out the next two hitters.
McKown returned to pitch in the sixth inning and escaped without a run despite issuing his 10th walk. However, in the top of the seventh he gave up two more free passes, elevating his pitch total to 155 before again being replaced by Schmidt.
At this point, JM self destructed with two errors, a bases-loaded walk to Andrew Kowalo and a wild pitch that produced another Patriots run. At this point, the heavy rain forced a stoppage in play and the ultimate decision to suspend the game.
Zach Drake, whose two-run home run on Monday led Park past Brooke in the tournament opener, was the only Patriot with two hits as he singled twice.
Fonner and Tyler West had doubles as John Marshall managed just five hits off the combined servings of Matt Brooks and Justice Jackson.