WHEELING - According to John Marshall coach Bob Montgomery, Tuesday evening's baseball game between the Monarchs and Wheeling Park was just another chapter in a great rivalry.
''It was a real good game,'' he said. ''John Marshall and Wheeling Park have been battling since 1976.''
Patriot's skipper Mike McLeod agreed.
John Marshall’s Ryan Davis (3) awaits a pitch during Tuesday’s game. Catching for Wheeling Park is Matthew Hackathorn.
''It was a great high school baseball game played in the cold,'' he added. ''We had some runners left on base and had some opportunities early we didn't cash in, but you hang in there and hope the ball rolls your way.''
The ball eventually did roll Park's way as the hosts defeated JM, 3-2, at Wheeling Park high school.
The Patriots (5-0) got things going early as Andrew Kowalo hit a fly ball into center field to bring in Eric Banks after Micheal Grove laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Banks to second.
Shane Wellman helped the cause for John Marshall (3-4) in the top of the third with a double into center field that brought in Chris Minder to tie the game at 1-1.
Trevor Stewart helped Park answer right back as the senior hit a pop-up single that landed right behind second base as Ethan Jacobs crossed home plate to give the Patriots a 2-1 advantage.
Solid pitching from Wellman kept Park from stretching the lead during the next three innings as he struck out three, but it came as no surprise to the Patriots.
''The Wellman kid is a great pitcher,'' McLeod said. ''He one-hit us down there last year and we knew we were going to have a tall task at hand and we persevered.''
Kowalo came on in relief of Eric Crow for Park in the top of the seventh and gave up a two-out double to Mitch Whorton to send Tanner Filben in to tie the game at 2-2.
''I think he feels he kind of let us down a little bit giving up the run in the seventh, but great players expect to get the job done when they come in,'' McLeod said. ''I told him there's going to be some ups and downs and (Tuesday) was one of those things where he didn't get it done early, but as a unit, we picked him up.''
After a failed squeeze by the Monarchs in the top of the eighth, the Patriots did just that as Julian Figaretti stole second before Banks was hit with a pitch that set the stage for a Grove deep single into left field that brought in Figaretti for the winning run.
''Sometimes you make it up as you go along and that's what we did,'' McLeod noted. ''(John Marshall's) a pretty darn good team.''
In the visitors dug out, Montgomery was happy with his team's performance after two outings against two tough opponents.
''We're trying to find ourselves,'' he said. ''They're unbeaten and going a long pretty good. We just got beat by Steubenville (Monday) night. They have a pretty good team, of course. I was real proud of our guys. It's April 2, so there's still a long ways to go.''
With the victory, Park remains undefeated on the season, but McLeod says he's not too worried about the team's record this early in the season.
''I would rather be 5-0 than 0-5, but you know, baseball is not like football,'' he said. ''You have to peak at the right time. I hope we're not peaking (yet). We're 5-0, but, you know, come sectional time in late April that's when you want to start peaking. We have a long way to go. We had a lot of mental errors (Tuesday) and there's some things that happened that I'm not too happy about, but we'll clean it up and get ready for Steubenville (today). Hopefully the sun will come out.''