Wheeling Park Takes Down John Marshall; Claims West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One Sectional Championship
Big Second Inning Lifts Patriots Over Monarchs
WHEELING — One big inning propelled Wheeling Park to the regional tournament.
The homestanding Patriots erupted for six runs in the second frame en route to a 7-3 triumph over John Marshall in the Region One, Section One Class AAA championship game Saturday afternoon.
First-year Park boss Steve Myers will take his charges to Morgantown to face the Mohigans on Monday, May 20 in the first game of a best-of-three series. The winner of that series punches their ticket to the state tournament.
The Patriots improved to a fine 17-8 on the season.
“It feels really good advancing to the regional. The staff and players are excited about it,” Myers said.
“We lost to Morgantown twice this year so we are looking at the opportunity to have another shot at them.”
John Marshall drew first blood with two runs in the second inning despite not getting a hit. The Monarchs made the most of two walks, two hit-batters and an error to take a short-lived lead.
Park responded immediately and impressively.
James Salvatori opened the home-half of the second with a ringing double off the left-center fence. Isaac Hines followed with a single before Brock Archer delivered an RBI single.
After a Monarch error, Jacob Shia singled in two runs, giving Park a 3-2 lead, one it would never relinquish. Another JM miscue loaded the bases. Ben Taylor and Nolan Mattern both coaxed successive walks, pushing across two more tallies. Salvatori capped the uprising with a RBI fielder’s choice.
Senior Ryan Hummel started on the hill for Park, giving way to sophomore Dylan Gongola in the fourth with no outs and two runners aboard. The Monarchs got a sacrifice fly from Shane Dobbs in that frame to pare the deficit to 6-3.
Gongola was superb the balance of the contest. He fanned three, yielded just two hits while not issuing a walk.
Park tacked on an insurance run in the fourth. With two outs, Mattern walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Salvatori single.
John Marshall failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities in each of the first three innings.
In the first, John Davis and Chas McCool opened the game with back-to-back singles. However, Hummel escaped thanks to a double play and strikeout.
The Monarchs left the bases loaded in both the second and third innings.
“We made too many mistakes and left too many runners on base. We had some bad at-bats,” John Marshall coach Mark Cisar said. “The first inning really hurt us. A base-running error cost a chance to score. I thought some of our young arms pitched well.
“Gongola did a real nice job in relief. But our kids battled and competed. I thought we had a good season. We won 15 games playing a very good schedule.”
Dobbs was the first of three Monarch hurlers. He worked into the second, striking out one and walking four. Wiley Pratt entered in the second and worked into the fourth, giving way to Garrett Bratton. Pratt struck out two and walked one while Bratton fanned two and walked a like amount.
Hummel struck out three and walked three.
“I thought Dylan did a real nice job in relief. He closed out the game really strong,” Myers said. “We played some solid defense today, also. We made several nice plays in the seventh inning.
“Offensively, we got timely hits. The second inning was big, responding with six runs after they took the lead. I am real pleased with how we played (Saturday).”
Salvatori and Shia were the lone Patriots with two hits. Both had a single, double and two RBI.
The Monarchs were limited to five hits. All told, John Marshall stranded nine base-runners.