There is no defense for the home run.
Ryan Johnston broke a 0-0 tie with a solo shot in the seventh inning and added a two-run home run in a four-run eighth, as Concord opened the final West Virginia Conference baseball tournament with a 5-1 win over West Liberty on Wednesday morning at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
Concord (33-18) returns to the diamond today to face Charleston (20-27), which upset top-seeded Seton Hill 16-14 on Wednesday. The first pitch is slated for 3:30 p.m.
“We just have to keep working hard,” Concord junior pitcher Ryan Weatherholtz said. “Now our focus is on the next game. If we just keep doing what we are doing we all have confidence.”
While Weatherholtz continually worked out of trouble on the mound, West Liberty’s Dylan Grosul had allowed just one hit through six innings in what was a defensive affair before Johnston connected on the first pitch in the seventh and drove it through a stiff wind and over the left field fence.
“I knew I hit it pretty good. Usually when that happens ,it goes out, but the wind was blowing in pretty good so I wasn’t really sure,” Johnston said. “I got out of the box thinking it might hit off the fence, but it felt good.”
That was just Concord’s second hit of the game. Devin Smith had singled for the Mountain Lions in the fourth.
“I was yelling ‘get out’ I was trying to push the thing out, blow it out, whatever I had to do,” Wright said. “We have played in this park enough that if a ball gets up like that you have a pretty good shot of it getting out.”
That was a relief to Weatherholtz, who allowed five hits and walked five.
West Liberty chased Weatherholtz when Travis Denman singled to lead off the eighth. Chris Baker, who picked up the win, was able to retire two batters, but Mike Johnson singled in a run to tie the score at 1-1.
“(Weatherholtz) scattered some hits, he walked some guys, but he did things that a number one pitcher is supposed to do...,” Wright said. “I can’t say enough about that, that is why he had the ball today because he can go out and make pitches like that.”
West Liberty had chances, collecting six hits — including three by Anthony Pierro — but the Hilltoppers stranded 10 runners on base.
“I heard Coach Wright say on the news last night that the last time they played us that was the best two-game series they had played all year,” said West Liberty head coach Eric Burkle, whose Hilltoppers dropped a recent twinbill to the Lions 9-0 and 14-3. “We had a little bit of revenge on our mind. We fell just a little short, but we are still alive.”
Jerrod Groves, who may have had the best of a slew of fine defensive plays by saving a run in the third, led off the eighth with a single and swiped second. One out later, Andrew Seigel lined a double to right to put Concord up to stay. Jacob Mays followed with a two-out RBI single and Johnston went deep again with a two-run shot to cap off the four-run eighth.
“He went in there and did what he is supposed to do as a cleanup hitter,” Wright said. “When we had opportunities to separate ourselves offensively, he went out and did it.”
Baker was able to retire the Hilltoppers in order in the ninth to secure the win and help the Mountain Lions avoid dropping into the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination format.
West Liberty (21-25) will face Seton Hill (37-14) in an elimination game this morning.
There is no defense for the home run.
- Latest Sports
White anxious to put 2013 in the rearview
The 2013 football season wasn’t exactly what Kevin White had envisioned when he made the decision to transfer from Lackawanna College, where he had 36 receptions for 535 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.
Passions are high for the Big Four
When it comes to the English Premier League, there are clubs and there are kings.
YMCA fall soccer registration underway
Fall is just around the corner and registration is now open for youth soccer at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia.
Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene's No. 75
The Pittsburgh Steelers are retiring Hall of Fame defensive end Joe Greene's number No. 75.
Steelers' Bell looking for more decisive, productive season
Le'Veon Bell kept watching the tape over and over, equal parts pleased and puzzled by what he saw.
Charges dropped against WVU RB Smallwood
Prosecutors said all charges against 20-year-old Wendell Smallwood, who had been charged with witness tampering in the case, have been dropped.
Word is out on Marshall's Cato
Rakeem Cato is easily the face of Marshall football. He also has been mentioned as a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. That status is legitimate.
Bush making Saints look good
For his first four seasons, Rafael Bush was simply looking to land on a roster — any roster.
Practice, not temps, heats up for Saints
The temperatures may have only been in the low 70s Tuesday afternoon at the Saints new practice facility at The Greenbrier, but now a third of the way into the 15 practices, it’s clear that the heat has turned up with playing time and positions on the line.
Bowles has a support system
Colin Bowles, the 14-year-old little brother of Corey, is coming into his own as a successful athlete. The younger Bowles competed last week at the U.S. Junior Amateur in The Woodlands, Texas, making the cut before bowing out in match play. Right there beside Colin, as he has been his entire life, was older brother Corey,
- More Latest Sports Headlines
- White anxious to put 2013 in the rearview