WHEELING -With heavy winds swirling around for much of the game, West Virginia Class AAA rivals Wheeling Park and Brooke hooked up for the third time this season Saturday morning with a berth in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A championship game on the line.
Just as they had done when the Bruins visited earlier this season, Coach Mike McLeod's Patriots took advantage of numerous Brooke errors to record a victory in a wild affair.
Justice Jackson and Grove Calvert combined for seven singles and six RBI and Michael Grove got Park out of jam on the hill in the fifth and finished the final two frames as the Patriots escaped with a 15-11 win in a marathon contest at Patriot Field.
Another key to the victory was eight Bruin errors in the game, including four in the deciding fourth inning in which the Patriots pushed across six runs, matching what Brooke had scored in the top of the frame.
Park moves into next Saturday's 11 a.m. big school championship game at Steubenville's Vaccaro Field against top-seeded Edison, a 4-1 victor over Morgantown yesterday.
"It is always nice to get another win over a sectional rival and Saturday is the next big game circled on the schedule," McLeod said. "We will get ready for the OVAC finals and then start thinking about that sectional up at Brooke on May 16."
The Bruins wasted no time getting things going in the first with Russell Schwertfeger lacing a first-pitch double down the first base line, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on Heath Hildreth's fielder's choice for a quick 1-0 lead.
However, it was a short-lived lead as Park's Daniel Basciak also went after the first pitch in the bottom of the frame and dropped it over the fence in right-center field to knot the count at 1-1.
The Patriots weren't done, putting up two more runs on a pair of singles and a pair of Brooke errors to lead 3-1 after one. Calvert had a run-scoring single in the frame.
Wheeling Park went back to work in the second, eventually chasing starting Hildreth in the process. Tyler Cooley doubled to left-center to get things started with courtesy runner Jay Massey reaching third when Baciak reached on another Bruins' miscue. Massey scored on Eric Crow's infield hit with Baciak crossing the dish on Grove's sacrifice fly.
Jackson added an RBI single to make it a 6-1 margin after two innings.
Brooke managed to get back into it in the third with three consecutive hits. Schwertfeger started it with a single and scored on Justin Loughrie's RBI double to deep center. Loughrie scored on Hildreth's single to left and it was 6-3.
Walker's one-out single to left plated Hildreth to pull the Bruins to within two.
Things got even worse for the Patriots in the fourth as Brooke batted around and reclaimed the lead with six runs, including RBI doubles from Hildreth, Nick Ossman, Walker and a two-run two-bagger off the bat of Chad Harper as the Bruins rallied for a 10-6 advantage.
The Patriots battled back in the bottom of the fourth, equaling Brooke's six in the top of the frame and going back in front for good at 12-10. Jackson had a two-run single in the frame while Park scored four more runs on four Bruin errors.
Calvert added a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to extend the Patriots' lead to 14-10. While the hosts added a tally in the sixth and Brooke got one more in the seventh.
Grove recorded the final seven outs on the mound, including four by strikeout, and did not allow a hit while walking a pair and giving up a run in the seventh to get the win.
"We knew Brooke would come here and battle and they did. It was like two warriors going at it," McLeod said. "I think we really found out what we were made of (Saturday).
"These kids showed a lot of heart, fight and drive in overcoming some adversity and getting the win. We hit the ball hard all day and if you do that and put it in play, there is a chance good things will happen.
"Pitching wasn't a strong point, but Michael (Grove) came in and got it done for us in the end."
Brooke coach Ron Ujcich was disappointed in his team's focus, especially after taking the lead in the fourth inning.
"It is a pitch-by-pitch game," Ujcich said. "And you have to focus and be mentally prepared after each one and we just weren't. Mental and physical blunders took us out of this game.
"If you score 11 runs, including six in one inning, you have to win that game. But even though you are scoring runs you have to go out and play defense and we just didn't execute in the field.
"Wheeling Park is a good enough team that no matter how much you score if you make mistakes and let them back in it is going to haunt you. We just didn't do a good job at anything after getting the lead."
Edison 4, Morgantown 1
RICHMOND - Nolan Marcus went six full for Edison, striking out six and giving up just two hits to pick up the victory on the hill as Edison topped Morgantown. With Marcus' pitch count at 105 after the sixth, Collopy went to Austin Horan in the seventh. Horan responded by sitting down all three hitters he faced, including striking out a pair, to pick up the save.
With one out in the bottom of the first Josh Pasek and Nolan Marcus both reached base on Morgantown misplays of ground balls. Storm Allese's bloop single just over the second baseman's head with two outs allowed both Pasek and Marcus to score to put Edison up 2-0.
The fourth inning saw the Wildcats push their lead out to three runs. Allese led off with a bunt single and then stole second to get in scoring position. After Collin Scott was hit by a pitch, Matt Dillon made the score 3-1 with a base hit. Dillon later scored on a wild pitch to make the score 4-1, which was more than enough for Marcus and Horan.