Big Blacks rally past Wahama


By Paul Boggs - pboggs@civitasmedia.com



Point Pleasant’s Sam Pinkerton (10) slides safely into second base and avoids the tag attempt by Wahama shortstop Dalton Kearns during Tuesday night’s baseball game at J.C. Cook Field at Claflin Stadium.


Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

MASON, W. Va. — The Wahama White Falcons threw almost everything, except the proverbial kitchen sink, at visiting Point Pleasant on Tuesday night.

They threw their ace Philip Hoffman, they threw forward a free-swinging approach, and threw a multitude of energy in battling back from a 5-0 first-inning deficit to take an 11-8 last-inning lead.

However, it seems no matter how the Big Blacks are struggling, they find new ways — once again — to get the best of their Mason County baseball brethren.

After being outscored 11-3 in the middle five innings, and falling behind by three runs entering its final at-bat, Point Pleasant pushed across four runs in the top of the seventh —en route to stunning Wahama 12-11 at J.C. Cook Field at Claflin Stadium.

Thus, once again, the bigger-school Big Blacks swept the season series from the smaller-school White Falcons.

Point Pleasant raced out to a 5-0 lead — off Hoffman — after its opening at-bat, then withstood Wahama’s four unearned runs in the fourth inning by crossing twice more against Hoffman in the fifth.

But the White Falcons responded by forging a 7-7 tie with three in their half of the fifth, including Bryton Grate’s game-tying double down the left-field line to chase Point Pleasant starting pitcher Carter Smith.

The Big Blacks, buoyed by three consecutive walks and a steal of home by Tucker Mayes, made it 8-7 —but the White Falcons gained their first lead by plating four earned runs in the sixth.

But, Point Pleasant made one last press — after Wahama rightfielder Jared Oliver turned the rare 9-3 defensive assist to lead off the seventh.

Against Antonio Serevicz — who relieved Hoffman after he recorded his 10th strikeout for the first out in the fifth — the Big Blacks combined two walks, two errors, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, a stolen base and finally a one-out two-run single by Brody Jeffers for the tying and go-ahead runs.

“Brody Jeffers comes up for a really big hit for us. I’m super happy for him. That’s a big hit for him,” said PPHS coach Andrew Blain. “When you put the ball in play at this level, good things can happen.”

Jeffers’ rocket was only the sixth and final hit for Point Pleasant, which scored most of its dozen runs by taking advantage of 11 walks —including seven off Serevicz in his two and two-thirds innings of relief.

The two Wahama hurlers also combined to hit three batters.

“We did some unconventional things tonight with some of our approaches at the plate. It worked for us and put us in a position in the top of the seventh inning,” said Blain. “Their pitcher (Serevicz) was struggling throwing strikes consistently. So we made him work a little bit and we had some good at-bats. We were aggressive on the basepaths and made them make some decisions. A couple of throws went our way, we finally got some breaks to go our way, and we were able to score some runs. In order to win, you have to do what is necessary. It’s not always the same exact approach. Today, we took a lot of pitches until we saw some strikes. They put us in a lot of hitter’s counts by doing that and fortunately it worked out where we got a lot of free bases. Most of our bases tonight were free bases. The most important thing I preach to these guys is to get on base. Because runs win games and not hits.”

For the youthful Big Blacks, where winning games this season has been hard to come by, they raised their record to 5-17.

Two of those are over the White Falcons, as Point Pleasant won its first game by edging Wahama 5-4 on March 23.

The White Falcons fell to 11-8, despite Hoffman’s four-hit 10-strikeout effort, which included whiffing six Big Blacks out of seven straight batters at one point.

After facing the lineup all the way through in the opening inning, Hoffman retired the side 1-2-3 in the second and third — and escaped a pair of leadoff walks in the fourth.

That set up the White Falcon rally, which included 10 hits — as Tanner Smith went 3-for-4 with a two-run single in the fourth, an RBI-double in the fifth, and finally a two-run double in the sixth to make it 11-8.

Grate went 2-for-3, as Hoffman jumpstarted the sixth-inning barrage with an RBI-triple to right field.

But Wahama did strand seven runners, including at second and first in the sixth — as a Point Pleasant relay throw on Smith’s double to the outfield gunned down David Hendrick at third.

Point Pleasant’s Patrick Stanton, in relief of winning pitcher Levi Mitchell, secured the save with a 1-2-3 seventh.

Wahama coach Tom Cullen said simply, “we are our own worst enemy”.

“We kill ourselves constantly and can’t make anything easy,” he said. “Physical errors, it’s been going on and on and on. When it stops, then we’ll be a little better. We battled back and Philip (Hoffman) finally settled in, but his pitch count was up at 40 pitches in that first inning. That limits how much farther you can go. We didn’t help out Antonio much behind him either, especially in the seventh. It snowballed and it’s frustrating. But Point Pleasant played well, so give them some credit.”

Mitchell, after striking out Serevicz to strand Grate at third to end the fifth, faced the entire Wahama lineup in the sixth — and allowed four earned runs on four hits with two walks and a hit batter.

He relieved Smith, who worked the opening two and two-thirds — and allowed three earned runs on six hits with one walk.

All four of Point Pleasant’s errors occurred in the White Falcons’ four-run fourth that made it 5-4.

However, they ultimately weren’t costly.

“We made our fair share of mistakes and let them have their way back in the ballgame. But a good team bounces back and has to find ways to win. Our resiliency I was really pleased with,” said Blain.

Smith paced the Big Blacks with two hits, including a two-run single in the first — followed by an infield dribbler that drove in a run in the fifth.

Point Pleasant hosts Huntington today (Thursday, April 27) at 6 p.m., while Wahama travels to Huntington St. Joseph today at 5:30 p.m.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

Point Pleasant’s Sam Pinkerton (10) slides safely into second base and avoids the tag attempt by Wahama shortstop Dalton Kearns during Tuesday night’s baseball game at J.C. Cook Field at Claflin Stadium.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2017/04/web1_4.27-PP-Pinkerton.jpgPoint Pleasant’s Sam Pinkerton (10) slides safely into second base and avoids the tag attempt by Wahama shortstop Dalton Kearns during Tuesday night’s baseball game at J.C. Cook Field at Claflin Stadium. Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

By Paul Boggs

pboggs@civitasmedia.com