POCA, W.Va. — With the winning run at third base, Poca right fielder Brenden Iezzi had a chance to give his Dots a win in their Class AA Region 4, Section 2 series opener against Sissonville in the bottom of the seventh inning, but popped out to send the game to extra innings.
Two innings later, Iezzi had another opportunity. This time, however, the senior delivered with a RBI single to give Poca a 6-5 victory at home against the Indians in nine innings.
The Dots (10-19) can advance to the Region 4 semifinals with a win Tuesday. Sissonville (18-14) will need a victory to continue their season and force a third game on Wednesday.
Bubba Hill led off the ninth inning with a double to the right-center field gap, and Noah Frampton was intentionally walked. Jake Payne also drew a walk, loading the bases with no outs.
After Matt Chandler’s fly ball to right field wasn’t deep enough to attempt a sacrifice fly, Iezzi drove a 0-1 pitch through the Sissonville infield to score Hill and set off a celebration.
“I was really happy to get the win for my team with the winning hit and hopefully we can get another one tomorrow,” Iezzi said. “We just kept on fighting and was going to find a way. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and put in play.”
Poca coach Mike Hutchinson was happy for Iezzi.
“It was good for him,” Hutchinson said. “He’s a senior and has been working really hard the past couple years. He is really starting to have some good at-bats and see the ball well. It paid off for us tonight. That was big for his confidence.”
The game-winner from Iezzi capped a Poca comeback. The Dots got to Sissonville starting pitcher J.R. Stricklen for four runs in the fifth to tie the game.
Noah Frampton hit a double, driving in two runs, and Jake Payne followed with a two-run homer over the right-center field fence to tie the game up at five.
The back-to-back hits from the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the Dot lineup provided just the spark Poca needed.
“When Noah and Jake hit those two shots, that is what turned the corner,” Iezzi said. “ They were huge and game changing. Jake means alot to the team. He is a really great player.”
“That was huge,” Hutchinson said. “It is what tied it up, and both were with two outs. I don’t know what we are going to do next year when I can’t write Jake Payne on the lineup. He’s been one of the top guys since he was a freshman.”
Right before Payne hit the home run, Sissonville coach Kenny Harper sensed trouble.
“That was a shot,” said Harper of Payne’s home run. “I was just telling someone right before the pitch that I wish it were someone else up.”
It was a tough loss for Harper and the Indians, who now must win two consecutive games if they are to continue their season.
“It’s a tough one and I’d much rather be where (Poca) they are right now,” Harper said. “We just have to strap it back on and go back at it again. That’s all we can do.”
The victory gives Poca belief that they can put a tough regular season behind them and look to possibly advance out of their section.
“Baseball is a funny game and when you get to the post-season, anything can happen,” Hutchinson said. “Whatever happened in the regular season was practice. Last year we were 23-7 going into the section. Sissonville was where we are this year and they swept us.”
Zac Boggess led the Sissonville attack with a two-hit effort, including three RBIs on a bases clearing double that gave the Indians a 4-1 lead in the third inning.
Frampton collected two hits for Poca, drove in two runs, and reached base four times, including two walks. He also came on in relief to give the Dots a chance to win, pitching 6 1/3 strong innings, allowing just one run to pick up the win.