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Wheeling Park Gets Past Steubenville

Patriots Capitalize on Errors, Get Triple-Play in 6th

Photo by Kyle Lutz Wheeling Park’s Dylan Gongola fields a bouncer during Friday’s game against Steubenville. The Patriots defeated Big Red, 4-2.

WHEELING — Capitalizing on errors and making big plays on defense can be the difference in tight ball games. Hence was the case for the Wheeling Park baseball team. The Patriots scored two runs on a dropped fly ball in the outfield.

They also secured a triple-play in the sixth inning after having the bases loaded with no outs en route to a 4-2 victory over Steubenville Friday evening at Wheeling Park High School.

“That triple play.. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that,” Wheeling Park coach Steve Myers said. “Our guys stayed focused, stayed in the game and did the little things when they had to and came out on top.”

Seth Hand — who went the distance for the Patriots — started the sixth inning with a Kye Fleming walk. JT Thompson then singled followed by Aaron Ferguson reaching base safely after a fielder’s choice to third. However, Fleming was safe.

Zach Smith then came up to the plate and crushed a ball to centerfield.

James Salvatori, though, made the catch. With runners not tagging up, he threw the ball to second base.

The throw to first completed the big defensive sequence and the Patriots got out of the inning unscathed keeping their 4-2 lead.

“James, he doesn’t just make those in games. He makes them every day in batting practice and I think that’s what leads to that,” Myers said.

“He gives that effort every time, he’s going to do his best to track that ball down. He did it (Friday).”

While Wheeling Park was able to keep its lead in the sixth, it was the inning before where it took the lead.

Avery Lee reached base safely on a Big Red error. Noah Seivertson was then walked. After Dylan Gongola struck out, Gian DeGenova was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Michael Bittinger stepped up to the plate. He cracked a pop up to shallow left field. The outfielder chased it down, got a glove on it, but could not complete the play and the Patriots were able to score two runs off of the miscue.

“We made some mistakes at the wrong time,” Steubenville coach Fred Heatherington said. “You can’t do that against a good team like Park. Park is an excellent team. They got a bunch of seniors that can play the game. We just made our mistakes at the wrong time.

“The thing we’re happy about is we battled and stayed in the whole game. You get beat 11-0 the first time, second time around your kids could just go out and go through the motions. Our kids aren’t like that.”

Big Red was able to score one of its runs on a few of Wheeling Park’s own mistakes.

Down 2-0, Thompson drove in the first Big Red run of the game.

After an Aaron Ferguson strikeout, Zach Smith also struck out. However, the pitch got behind the catcher. Smith reached base safely as the throw to first was off resulting in Thompson to score to put the score at 2-2.

Both pitchers went the distance. Both Hand and Andrew Gresko each tallied two strikeouts.

Thompson had two singles and one RBI for Big Red.

“We put the ball in play the whole game and that’s all we can ask,” Heatherington said. “Our pitcher Andrew pitched another gutsy performance. That’s two times out he’s been beat where he’s pitched an excellent game. He battled the whole game and kept us in it.”

Salvatori had two singles for the Patriots. His first hit of the game, he beat out a bunt to put two guys on in the second inning.

Billy Gooch grounded out to first, but was able to secure the RBI for the first run of the game. Salvatori then scored to make it 2-0 on a wild pitch.

“I think Seth pitched an absolute gem of a game,” Myers said. “He stayed focused. A couple of things happened behind him and he didn’t even flinch. To come out and finish the game the way he did was really impressive.”


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