CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — The Pirates might have considered it a wild ride, but the Marauders found this journey to be some rather smooth sailing.
The Meigs baseball team received seven walks and used a pair of 5-run outbursts in both the second and fifth frames Tuesday night en route to a 10-2 thumping of second-seeded Wheelersburg in a Division III district semifinal matchup at VA Memorial Field in Ross County.
The seventh-seeded Marauders (17-5) led wire-to-wire and held the host Pirates (17-9) scoreless through four frames, resulting in a commanding 5-0 cushion headed into the back half of regulation.
MHS followed by plating another five runs in the top of the fifth for a 10-run cushion, and the guests were an out away from wrapping up a mercy-rule decision before Jake Darling singled home Connor Estep with two away — making it a 10-1 contest through five full frames.
Estep singled home Landon Hutchinson with two away in the sixth, ultimately wrapping up the final 8-run outcome.
The Marauders find themselves in a district championship final for the second straight postseason, but this time the Maroon and Gold will face Fairland at 4 p.m. Thursday at VA Memorial Stadium. The sixth-seeded Dragons — the 2022 outright Ohio Valley Conference champions — defeated Portsmouth by a 7-0 count in the second semifinal matchup Tuesday night.
After a scoreless first inning, Meigs did very little work in building an all-of-a-sudden 5-0 advantage midway through the second.
Theron Eberts singled in between a pair of 1-out walks to Caleb Burnem and Joey Young that loaded the bases, then Jake Martin grounded into a fielder’s choice. Burnem scored on the groundout that led to Young being forced out at second, giving the guests a permanent 1-0 lead.
With two away and runners at the corners, Conner Imboden lifted a single to centerfield that allowed Eberts to cross home plate for a 2-0 edge.
Layne Stanley, Lucas Finlaw, Ethan Stewart and Drew Dodson all received consecutive walks from there, allowing Martin, Imboden and Stanley to all come plateward en route to a 5-run cushion.
Dodson and Burnem started the sixth with a single and a double to put two in scoring position, then Eberts and Young followed with back-to-back RBI singles that plated Dodson and Burnem for a 7-0 lead.
Imboden reached on a fielder’s choice that left MHS with two on and two out, then Stanley doubled in both Eberts and Young for a 9-0 advantage. Stanley later scored on a Finlaw single that gave the guests their only double-digit lead of the night.
Wheelersburg left runners stranded in scoring position in the second, third, fifth and sixth frames, then went down in order in the seventh.
Afterwards, MHS first-year coach Pat Martin was all smiles … primarily because his troops came in and handled business like they have all year long.
“We told the guys to play loose and have fun. They know that they deserve to be here and they’ve put in the work to get here, so we really just fell back on our preparation … which is something that we’ve tried to do all year long. And again, like most of this season, that preparation showed itself tonight,” Martin said. “We had fun out there and we were patient, which isn’t something that we were always the best at being during the regular season. We’ve been a lot more patient at the plate in the postseason, and it’s really helped us a lot.
“We told the kids at the start of the tournament that we are going to have to hit, we have to pitch well and we have to field it well. We’ve done all of those things, especially tonight, and that’s what we are going to focus on doing in the next one. We just need to keep focusing on doing and controlling the things that we can do and control.”
Meigs outhit the hosts by a 10-7 overall margin and also committed the only error in the contest. The Pirates stranded 10 of the 17 runners left on base.
Eberts led Meigs with three hits, followed by Young with two hits. Stanley, Stewart, Dodson, Burnem and Imboden also added a safety apiece to the winning cause.
Stanley, Burnem and Imboden each scored two runs for the victors, while Stanley and Stewart knocked in a team-high two RBIs apiece.
Stewart was the winning pitcher of record after allowing two earned runs, seven hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out three.
Issac Bockway paced Burg with two hits, while Estep, Darling, Hutchinson, Cooper McKenzie and Hunter Thomas added a safety each in the setback.
WHS used three different pitchers, with Thomas taking the loss after surrendering five earned runs, two hits and four walks over 1.2 frames while fanning one.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.