STEUBENVILLE - Another day, another one-run extra-inning victory-and so it goes for the Wheeling Park baseball team.
Down four early, the Patriots found their "A game" just in time to earn a 7-6 victory against Steubenville in eight innings at Vacarro Field on Thursday.
"We started with our B game but we kept battling, scrapping, clawing and chipping away," Wheeling Park coach Mike McLeod said. "We found our A game at the right time.
Park’s Eric Banks (10) hits an RBI double during Thursday’s game against Steubenville.
"Any time you can beat Big Red, you know you've done a heck of a job. It was a great game, unfortunately someone had to win and someone had to lose."
Michael Grove came up big for the Patriots, knocking in what proved to be the game-winning run, then working his way out of a jam in the eighth to notch a pitching victory.
With one out in the Park half of the extra frame, Ethan Jacobs was hit by a pitch.
Andrew Kowalo was robbed of a base hit when Steubenville's Cody Saltsman made a diving catch in center. Grove then connected for a two-out, two-strike double into the right-center gap to plate Jacobs.
Steubenville, to its credit, was not about to go down without a fight. Evan Westlake led off with a double to deep right and moved to third when Saltsman reached on an error. Grove escaped trouble when the next Big Red hitter sent a grounder to short, resulting in a 6-4-3 game-ending double play.
Earlier in the game, Grove made a key defensive play to stop a Big Red threat in the fifth. The bases were loaded with one out when Grove, then playing second base, snagged a line drive off the bat of Justin Corsi and flipped to shortshop Kowalo for the double play.
"He's just a sophomore but he's doing an outstanding job for us," McLeod said of Grove. "He came up here last year as a freshman and pitched well against Big Red. That doubleplay was huge. They could have busted the game open there."
Fred Heatherington's Big Red, now 8-4, appeared ready to blow things open early. The hosts scored two in the first and one more in the second. The scored moved to 5-1 thanks to third inning hits by Corsi, Lucas Herrington and Pierro. Mason Heatherington recorded a RBI via a fly to center.
Big Red's final run came in the fourth, Kai McClurg's triple plating Westlake. The hosts did load the bases in the seventh, but were unable to score. For the game, Big Red stranded 14 runners.
Park's offense was held in check early by freshman southpaw Anthony Zorne. He worked four and a third innings, scattering seven hits, allowing three runs and fanning six. Zorne, like Westlake who took over in the fifth, did not issue a walk.
Big Red's defense, unfortunately, did not provide much support for its pitchers, committing seven errors.
"We gave them too many opportunities," Heatherington added. "We got them down then let them back in the game. You can't win a high school baseball game with seven errors."