MOUNDSVILLE - Nine days ago a youthful Wheeling Central baseball team watched a four-run, seventh-inning lead disappear in a stunning loss to Bishop Donahue at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Sports Complex.
Tuesday the Maroon Knights returned the visit and the Bishops nearly turned the day into a little deja-vu.
Wheeling Central took advantage of four Bishop Donahue errors in the third inning to push across six runs and then withstood a five-run Bishops uprising in the bottom of the seventh to hold on for 7-6 victory on Donahue's diamond.
Coach Jimbo Wodusky's Knights upped their record to 3-6 on the season, but he hopes the game will also provide a spark.
''We scored some unearned runs and we are still a young team trying to learn to take advantage of the other team's mistakes,'' Wodusky said. ''Good teams already know how to do that, and hopefully this is a first step for us.''
Early on it was the Knights that appeared doomed to give things away, but Bishop Donahue (6-5) was unable to convert a pair of first-inning Central miscues into runs.
That was not the case in the top of third as a pair of costly errors as the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters in the Maroon Knights lineup set the state for J.D. Griffith's two-run double to right-center field.
A fielder's choice and a walk loaded the bases before winning pitcher Nate Bakaitis stroked a run-scoring single and another run came around on an error.
Derek Yocke's sacrifice fly produced the fifth run before the fourth error of the inning led to a 6-0 lead.
Mistakes led to the next two runs, one for each team, before Donahue headed for the home-half of the seventh down 7-1 and with a pair of infield singles to its credit. That all changed as the hosts collected six hits and five runs.
Matt Vucelik's two-run double keyed the uprising while Philip Smith, Lance LeMasters and Hunter Kaschke all had run-scoring base hits. With the tying run standing at second and two down, Chaice Truex hit a hard grounder up the middle that was fielded and the throw just beat the sophomore to the bag to end the contest.
''We decided to finally hit the ball in the seventh inning, which seems to be what we do all the time now,'' a disappointed Donahue coach Bob Kleeh said. ''We have just not hit consistently, and while we don't quit and we play all seven, we have to get more consistent.
''Joey Myers did a nice job on the mound and what happened in the third inning was not his fault, but we just have a few things we need to clean up. They are a young team like we are, but they did what they had to do to get the win and we just waited too long."
Central's Bakaitis fanned four and walked two through five innings while allowing the two infield hits. Meanwhile, Myers allowed seven hits, five singles and a pair of doubles, but pitched well enough to win if not for the fateful third-inning letdown.
''Nate was pitching very well and I wanted to leave him in there, but his pitch count was getting high and we have a lot of games left this week so we are going to need him,'' Wodusky added.
''They are a very well-coached team that has a lot of discipline at the plate. We had a 5-1 lead on them the last time heading to the seventh and lost the game. Thankfully that didn't happen again.''