MASON, W.Va. — The White Falcons fought back to take the lead, only to let it slip away.
The Wahama baseball team took a 8-7 lead over visiting Huntington St. Joseph, on Saturday afternoon on J.C. Cook Field at Claflin Stadium, but the visiting Fighting Irish scored twice in the top of the seventh and escaped Mason County with a 9-8 victory.
Things started out just the way Wahama (3-4) wanted, as the White Falcons struck out the side in the top of the first and then scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the frame.
Thanks to a pair of St. Joseph errors, Wahama’s lead grew to 4-0 in the bottom of the second inning. However, the Fighting Irish tied the game at four, scoring twice in the third inning and twice more in the top of the fourth.
Two SJHS errors in the bottom of the fourth allowed Wahama to reestablish the lead, at 5-4.
St. Joseph took its first lead of the game, at 6-5, in the top of the fifth frame, and the Fighting Irish pushed their lead to 7-5 in the top of the sixth.
Two walks, two hits and two errors led to three White Falcon runs in the bottom of the sixth, giving the hosts a 8-7 lead.
A leadoff double followed by a WHS error gave St. Joseph two runners in scoring position with no outs in the top of the seventh. Back-to-back ground outs scored both SJHS runners, giving the guests a 9-8 lead.
Wahama put one runner on in the bottom of the seventh, but failed to score and fell by a 9-8 final.
Charlie White was the winning pitcher of record for the Fighting Irish, allowing eight runs, six earned, on nine hits and two walks. White struck out three batters in a complete game on the mound.
Dalton Kearns took the loss in relief for WHS, allowing three runs, one earned, on two hits and a walk, in two innings. Wahama starting pitcher Philip Hoffman went three innings and allowed two earned runs on one hit and five walks. Nyles Riggs also pitched two frames in relief for Wahama, allowing four runs, one earned, on two hits and two walks.
Hoffman struck out a game-best six batters, while Kearns and Riggs both struck out two.
Jared Oliver led the hosts at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and one run scored. Hoffman was 2-for-4 with two doubles and one run scored in the setback, while Colton Arrington doubled once, scored once and stole one base.
Bryton Grate singled once and drove in one run for the White Falcons, Tyler Bumgarner and Tanner Smith each added a single and a run scored, while Cass Kimes, David Hendrick and Wyatt Edwards each scored once.
The ninth batter in the SJHS order, Trenton Speaks, led the victors with a 2-for-4 day, which included a triple, a double, two runs scored and one RBI. Jack Tolliver was also 2-for-4 in the win, driving in two runs and stealing one base.
John Piaskowski doubled once and scored twice in the win, White scored three runs and added an RBI, while Lenny Washington contributed one run scored and one RBI to the SJHS cause. Noah Beter drove in one run for the Fighting Irish, while Grayson Kinner scored once.
Both defenses struggled on Saturday, with St. Joseph committing seven errors and Wahama committing six. The victors stranded 10 runners on base, while WHS left four runners stranded.
These teams are scheduled to meet again on April 27, in Huntington.
Wahama resumes Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play on Tuesday, when Waterford visits Mason.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.