GLEN DALE - If the Wheeling Park baseball team achieves its goals this season, it might look at Monday as a watershed moment.
The Patriots scored eight runs during the final two innings - four in the sixth and four in the seventh - and rallied twice in the late going to stun John Marshall, 9-7, at Monarch Field.
Park trailed 5-1 after five innings. But even as the situation looked bleak, its coach, Mike McLeod, never even thought about getting on the bus with an 'L.'
Wheeling Park’s Jesse Hartley is greeted by teammates after hitting a two-run home run in the seventh inning Monday against JM. View additional photos at cu.theintelligencer.net.
''We've been fightin' and scratchin' every game like this,'' Mcleod said as his voice choked up with emotion. ''We have a lot of heart. We have kids that just won't give in ... they won't.
''I'm proud of them.''
Meanwhile, JM coach Bob Montgomery said the game was a missed opportunity for his club.
''Park put the pressure on us,'' he said. ''They've won a lot of games this way.
''We gave them opportunities. But I'm proud of my guys. We'd let some slip away before, but this one is tough because we had the game in control.''
The Monarchs scored three times in the fifth to take what looked like a commanding 5-1 lead.
Mitch Whorton led off the frame reaching on an error. Shane Wellman followed with a single. Then, Zach Winland sliced a ground-rule double to right that scored Whorton to make the score 3-1 with no outs.
With Wellman on third and Jeremiah Fromhart batting, Patriots' starter Michael Grove uncorked a wild pitch and Wellman came home to make the score 4-1.
Moments later, Fromhart hit a sacrifice fly that scored pinch runner Cody Frazier to make the count 5-1.
Justice Jackson started the sixth with a single. Two batters later, Andrew Kowalo hit a shot between second and third. JM was unable to make a play and both runners were safe.
Grove followed with a hit that bounced off second base and into the outfield. Next, Trevor Stewart hit the ball into the infield. Again, no play was able to be made and Kowalo scored to make the score 5-3.
Jesse Hartley rapped a double to left a few pitches later scoring Grove to trim the deficit to one. And, when Chase Moffett grounded out, Stewart scored to tie the game .
Just when it looked like Park had seized the momentum, JM regained the lead in the bottom of the inning without getting a hit.
Tanner Filben walked to start the inning. Groundouts by Chris Minder and Whorton moved Filben to second and third, respectively. Moments later, with Wellman facing a 2-1 count, a Grove pitch got past Park catcher Matt Hackathorn and Filben raced home to give JM a 6-5 lead.
Needing a run to stay alive in the seventh, the Patriots got that run and three more for good measure.
Kowalo laced an RBI double to tie the game with one out. Then, Grove slapped a single to center scoring pinch runner Grove Calvert giving the Patriots their first lead, 7-6.
Later, with two outs, Hartley provided some insurance with a mammoth two-run homer to left.
''We've been here before,'' McLeod said. ''We didn't play well early, no question. The Wellman kid is an awesome pitcher ... he's a college-level pitcher.''
Wellman took the loss, but held the Patriots to a run and two hits through five innings.
''I think we'll be the top seed for the (Class 5A) OVAC Tournament,'' McLeod said. ''We have to be focused on that and go from there.''