Charleston Catholic maintains hold over Wahama
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. - Charleston Catholic and Wahama are beyond well-acquainted in Class A Region 4 baseball play, and White Falcons coach Tom Cullen can painfully recite the results.
"This is our fifth time in a row in the region," Cullen said after Catholic walked off with a 6-2 victory Monday night in the region semifinal. "We beat them the first one [but] they got us the last four, so we owe them one some time."
That debt was not paid Monday as Catholic jumped on Wahama starter Hunter Bradley for all six runs in the first two innings. The youthful Falcons did themselves no favors, committing three errors with a wild pitch and a passed ball in that stretch.
And that doesn't count Catholic's backdoor double steal that scored the game's first run.
With Rocco Wilcox on third and Connor Golden on first, Bradley attempted that fake throw to third, then a pickoff throw to first. It's often nicknamed "the play that never works," but Bradley caught Golden leaning toward second.
Golden got caught in a rundown, but that bought time for Wilcox to sneak toward home. The Falcons switched gears and threw that way, but when the throw went off target, Wilcox scored and Golden stood on second.
Andy Hoyer singled in the second run, giving himself a 2-0 cushion on the mound. In the second, that cushion tripled to 6-0 after the Irish scored four times, partly on RBI singles by Wilcox and Nelson McKown. An error and a passed ball brought in the other two runs.
Sam McKown started the second with a single that really impressed Cullen.
"The hit that impressed me the most was when Hunter made a heck of a pitch, had him 0-2," he said. "The young McKown kid, he went down with the ball like you're supposed to and lined it to right field."
Catholic had just one hit and didn't score after the second, but it didn't matter with Hoyer on the mound. He gave up a Dimitrius Serevicz double in the second and an infield single in the fifth before the White Falcons scored twice in the sixth - both on Serevicz's second double.
Hoyer struck out nine and walked only one - and that third-inning runner got erased by a slick 4-6-3 double play. Thad Jameson started that with a diving stab near the bag, followed by a nifty flip to Kiefer Hovorka.
"That was a really sweet double play," said Catholic coach Bill Mehle. "That kind of took the wind out of their sails when we cleared the field after that one."
Wahama turned three double plays to counteract three more errors. Still, the Irish had the game well in hand, thanks to those first two innings.
"We started out saying we've got to play the first inning like it's the seventh inning of an 0-0 game," Mehle said. "We've got to find a way to score in that inning, so we can win the game. We did, we crossed the plate twice in the first inning and that almost would have held up by itself.
"We knew we were facing a very good pitcher, and Hunter Bradley's a very good pitcher. He settled in and started hitting his spots better after the first couple of innings, and we knew we had to jump on the pitcher early."
Catholic (26-9) advances to the regional final, playing at Parkersburg Catholic at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Wahama, which finished 18-12, will lose just two starters. And all those returning players should remember the lessons of Monday.
"You can't give a darned good team like they are anything extra, because they take advantage of it. And they did," Cullen said.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.