Wheeling Central Baseball Outlasts Linsly in Extra Innings at Holloway Field
Lee smacks go-ahead 3-run double in ninth
WHEELING — Wheeling Central and Linsly delivered another classic on the diamond of Holloway Field on Tuesday evening.
In an extra inning thriller, Avery Lee blasted a three-run double to deep left field in the top of the ninth inning, which proved to be the game-winning hit as the Maroon Knights edged the Cadets 5-4.
The Central leadoff hitter’s go-ahead knock was made possible by the bottom half of the lineup as Sonny Peluchette led off the frame with a single and the No. 8 and 9 hitters Josh Custer and Dominic Pompeo drew walks to load the bases with one out.
Lee was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple but the damage was already done.
“That bottom of the order has been coming up big for us in the last six or seven games,” Central coach Bo McConnaughy said. “And Avery is coming through in the clutch. That’s why he leads off. You want your 1-2-3 hitters to come up the most in the game and that’s who you want in there when the bottom of the order gets on.
“This was a helluva high school game. It was one of the best high school games we’ve been in and both teams never quit.”
There was no thought of quitting in the minds of the Cadets (14-4) as they went out and plated two in the bottom of the ninth.
Dom Gorence and Marshall Taylor drew a pair of walks to lead off the stanza and Eli Petho laced a RBI double to left to make it a 5-3 deficit.
Linsly leadoff hitter Jules Giovengo followed with a RBI groundout to make it just a one-run game with the tying run on third.
Peluchette — who came in during the fifth in relief of Adam Murray — buckled down and finished the game with a much needed strikeout to put the Knights (11-5) in the win column.
“That was a well-played baseball game,” Linsly coach Jay Cartwright said. “Our guys played hard but we just left too many guys on base.
“We had numerous opportunities and couldn’t capitalize.
“Give their guys credit. They made pitches and made the plays. They are a much improved team and have made a lot of progress since the last time we played.”
Peluchette struck out two and walked four to earn the win, while Murray fanned three and allowed three free passes in four and two-thirds.
“Both pitchers pitched well and both relievers came in and pitched well,” McConnaughy said. “They had some walks but we got it done.”
Petho held the Knights hitless the first time through the lineup, striking out four of the first nine batters. He got out of trouble in the fourth by inducing a groundball to third where Dom Gorence charged and fired to first to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fourth, Gorence did his damage at the dish.
After Alex Papadimitriou reached first on a strikeout throwing error by the catcher, Gorence roped a two-out RBI double to deep left-center for the game’s first run.
He later trotted around to score on a Lee Paull RBI knock.
Central stormed right back in the fifth with some two-out lightning of its own as Jacob Rine and Angelo Gentile produced back-to-back RBI singles to left to plate Pompeo and Lee and knot the score at 2-2.
In relief, Peluchette and Linsly’s Kobe Hill kept the opposing offenses quiet until the ninth. They were also helped by some impressive defense as Petho made a leaping grab to end the sixth and Custer supplied a diving catch in left during the eighth inning.
“Kobe threw really well but he just gave up that one knock and unfortunately he walked a few guys before that,” Cartwright said. “But that’s baseball. He hasn’t been doing that so it was uncharacteristic of him to walk guys.
“We just have to keep playing and battling. There is no shame in this loss. We played hard for nine innings. We just have to do a better job, especially with less than two outs and a runner on third. We’ve got to get the ball in play and get that run in. That was a huge part of the game (Tuesday).”
Linsly left seven runners on base, while Central stranded five.
Hunter Kelley had a strong day at the plate for the Cadets, providing three singles –including a bunt– and a walk.
Tonight is the cutoff date for the OVAC baseball tournament and both Wheeling Central and Linsly find themselves in prime position to host a semifinal contest.
“This is a huge game for us as far as OVAC implications go,” McConnaughy said. “We were in second place and we’re going to pick up a lot of points from these guys.”