WHEELING - With new dugouts, a press box and plenty of other upgrades, Wheeling Park unveiled its new-look Patriots Field on Thursday against West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One rival Brooke.
While the surroundings may have changed, the swirling winds on the hilltop have not, something the Bruins found out the hard way.
Michael Grove paced a 12-hit attack with two singles, a double and three RBI and the Patriots took advantage of a huge Brooke error in the bottom of the third to explode for a 10-3 victory.
PHOTOS BY SHAWN RINE
Brooke's Russell Schwertfeger takes a cut in front of Wheeling Park catcher Tyler Cooley on Thursday.
Wheeling Park's Justice Jackson delivers the first pitch at renovated Patriots Field.
Along with three errors, Coach Ron Ujcich's club also misplayed at least three balls into extra-base hits, two during Wheeling Park's five-run third inning that was the difference maker.
Kellen Welch helped get the Bruins on the board early, driving a doule to deep left field and scoring on senior Nick Ossman's bloop single to right for a 1-0 advantage.
Baserunning mistakes cost Park in the opening two frames as Justice Jackson reached on a leadoff error in the first but was caught stealing. The next two hitters each reached base, but the Patriots did not score.
In the second, Zane Hummell appeared to double to right field with one out, but after the Bruins appealed that Hummell missed first base, he was called out.
Brooke helped take itself out of a possible big inning in the third. Heath Hildreth singled and appeared to be picked off before an error sent him all the way to third with one out. Ossman followed with a walk, but Jackson picked him off first before a ground out ended the threat with no damage.
It took just one error in the home half of the third for Park to break through. With one out and a runner on first, Eric Crow's ground ball to second was thrown into center field with the runners advancing to second and third.
Grove plated the first two Patriots runs with a base hit and went to third on Chalmer Moffett's misplayed double. After Daniel Baciak brought Grove home with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1, Grove Calvert turned a misplayed fly into an RBI double.
Hummell brought home the fifth run with the third double of the inning.
"Sometimes when two great teams get together it is the smallest things that can make a difference, and that error made a big difference," Park coach Mike McLeod said.
Ujcich could only agree.
"That one error killed us," he said. "It really took us out of it. Basically we belly-ached over it and it cost us even more. You have to rebound and make plays after something like that and we didn't."
Jackson, Park's starter, aided his own cause in the fourth, following Tyler Cooley's second single with a triple into the left-center field gap. Grove's double a batter later made it a 7-1 margin.
The Bruins manufactured a pair in the fifth to pull to within 7-3. Senior Russell Schwertfeger followed a leadoff walk with a double and Hildreth walked with one out to load the bases.
Fargo Camerlengo, who reached on the error, scored on a wild pitch with Schwertfeger crossing the dish on Chad Harper's sacrifice fly.
Wheeling Park added some insurance in the sixth, scoring a run off a run down, and two more on Moffett's two-run home run deep over the fence in center.
Jackson went five on the hill to get a victory while Grove recorded the final six outs in order, five by strikeout.
The Patriots pounded out six for extra-base hits, while Jackson and Grove combined to limit Brooke to four hits, two singles and two doubles.
"Our pitchers haven't gotten a lot of work with the cold weather, but Justice Jackson and Michael Grove are as good of a one-two punch that you are going to see," McLeod added.
"We have been working hard the last few games, but we lost a couple in the seventh and we talked about being able to finish. I think we learned a little about that.
"The wind hurt them also. If you put the ball in play 16- and 17-year-old kids are going to make mistakes, and then you add that wind in and it could get worse.
"This was a good game with two good team. We honestly feel like we can compete with anyone and we know Brooke is a very good team."
For Ujcich it all came down to putting the ball in play and taking advantage of opportunities.
"Balls can get tricky up here with the wind, but you have to put the ball in play to have a chance and we just didn't do it," he said. "You also have to take advantage of situations, and Wheeling Park was able to do that and we were not."