By Brian Woodso
For The Register-Herald
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.
WL: 000 000 010 — 1 7 0
C: 000 000 14X — 5 6 1
WL: Dylan Grosul, Drew Peterson (8) and Josh Nagel C: Weatherholtz, C. Baker (8) and TJ Brockway, B. Costa. WP — C. Baker, LP — Dylan Grosul. Hitting — WL: Anthony Pierro 3-5, Travis Denman 2-3 (R), Tim Mirandy 1-3, Mike Johnson 1-3 (RBI) C: A. Seigel 1-4 (R, RBI, 2B), D. Smith 1-4, J. Mays 1-3 (R, RBI), R. Johnston 2-4 (2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR), J. Groves 1-3 (R)
Records: WL: (20-26), C: (33-18)
Seton Hill 14
The University of Charleston, which is the fourth seed in the South Division, defeated Seton Hill, the top seed in the North Division 16-14 Wednesday afternoon in the opening day of the WVIAC Baseball Tournament.
The Golden Eagles (20-27) opened the game with a four-run inning in the top of the first, aided by a couple of errors by the Griffins (37-14).
Seton Hill cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the inning as WVIAC Player of the Year Nick Sell hit a sacrifice fly to score Brendan Constantino, and Mike Sima had a RBI single. Sell then gave the Griffins a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the second with a three-run home run.
Charleston capitalized on a couple more Seton Hill miscues in the fourth and scored four runs to take an 8-5 lead. Robert Collin tallied a RBI groundout to score Brad Johnson, and Tim Rein scored on a passed ball. Corey Hill registered an RBI single to right-center, and John Schraer had a RBI single through the left side to cap off the scoring.
The Golden Eagles offense continued to roll in the fifth, scoring five runs on five hits to extend their lead to 13-5. Charleston tacked on two more runs in the sixth on a two-run double from Collin.
Seton Hill rallied back with a six-run sixth inning to close the gap to 15-11. With the bases loaded, Jackson Boyd highlighted the inning with a bases-clearing double to center field.
The Golden Eagles tacked on one more run in the seventh, but the Griffins closed the gap yet again in the bottom of the frame, scoring three more runs. Cody Herald had a RBI single, and Mike Cima hit a two-run double.
Seton Hill threatened to score in the eighth, getting two runners on base, but the Charleston defense and relief pitcher Tyler Itnyre kept the Golden Eagles scoreless.
C: 400 452 100 — 16 18 1
SH: 230 006 300 — 14 18 4
C: Weinberg, Ciolfi (6), Itnyre (7) and Iacovone. SH: Brad Schnelle, Jordan Fuller (5), Sam Bashioum (6), Austin Sleek (8) and Mike Cima. WP — Weinberg LP — Brad Schnelle. Hitting — C: Foster 3-5 (3 R, 2 RBIs, 3 2B), Collin 2-6 (R, 4 RBIs), Molina 1-5 (3 R), Hill 2-6 (R, 2 RBIs), Schraer 3-4 (2 R, 2 RBIs), Itnyre 1-6 (RBI), Johnson 3-6 (R, RBI), Iacovone 2-6 (2R, RBI), Rein 2-4 (3 R) SH: Brendan Costantino 1-2 (R), Pat McCarthy 2-5 (3 R, RBI), Nick Sell (1-5 (2 R, 4 RBIs, HR), Cody Herald 3-6 (2 R, 3 RBIs), Mike Cima 3-6 (R, 3 RBIs, 2B), Josh Forbes 1-4 (R), Jackson Boyd 2-4 (3 RBIs, 2B), Brad Comport 4-5 (2 R), Brandon Jossey 1-1 (R).
Records: C: (20-27), SH: (37-14)
Davis & Elkins 1
Shepherd pitcher Paul Hvozdovic struck out 10 batters over eight innings, and Chad Murphy drove in three runs to lead Shepherd to a 7-1 victory over Davis & Elkins Wednesday.
The Rams overcame an early 1-0 Davis & Elkins lead with one run in the third and three more in the fifth, before blowing the game open with another three-run inning in the seventh that gave Shepherd a commanding 7-1 lead.
After giving up one run in the first inning, Hvozdovic was nearly flawless, throwing seven straight scoreless innings in his double-digit strikeout performance. Brian Martin threw a scoreless ninth inning to secure the Rams’ win.
At the plate, Murphy drove in his three runs on four hits. Teammate Ryan Messina also drove in a pair of runs, while Michael Lott recorded two hits and two runs scored.
Davis and Elkins was paced by Kyle Crist and Matt Barr, who each had a pair of hits. Matt Moceri drove in the Senators’ lone run.
DE: 100 000 000 — 1 8 3
S: 001 030 30X — 7 10 0
DE: Kehr, Staley (7) and Hines. S: Paul Hvozdovic, Brian Martin (9) and Chad Murphy. WP — Paul Hvozdovic, LP — Keher. Hitting — DE: Ragos 2-4 (R, 2B, 3B), Barr 2-3, Phelps 1-4, Crist 3-4. S: Michael Lott 2-4 (2 R, 2B), Jake Cook 1-4 (R, RBI), Chad Murphy 3-4 (R, 3 RBIs, 2B, 3B), Ryan Messina 1-4 (R, 2 RBIs, 2B), Kyle Porter 1-4 (RBI), Mark McCormick 1-4, Bryan DiRosario 1-4 (R).
Records: DE: (26-19), S: (26-20)
West Virginia St. 3,
Fairmont State 1
South Division top seed West Virginia State defeated North Division fourth seed Fairmont State 3-1 Wednesday night.
The Yellow Jackets (28-17) struck first, scoring on a sacrifice fly from Andrew Pickering in the third and went ahead 2-0 on a solo home run from Anthony Payne.
The Fighting Falcons (21-24) broke their scoring drought in the top of the sixth on a RBI double from Jeff Fansler to pull to within one run, 2-1.
Payne provided an insurance run for WVSU in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single to score Pickering for the final score.
Devin Bowles pitched a gem for the Yellow Jackets, scattering only five hits over eight innings on the mound and giving up one run while striking out five batters for the win. Joshua Falbo earned the save after holding Fairmont State hitless in the ninth and striking out one batter.
Jamie Allard also pitched well for the Fighting Falcons, surrendering only seven hits over eight innings and giving up three runs (two earned) while striking out two batters.
FS: 000 001 000 — 1 5 2
WVS: 001 100 01X — 3 7 1
FS: Allard and Fansler. WVS: Bowls, Falbo (9) and Payne WP — Bowles, LP — Allard. Hitting — FS: Walter 1-4 (R), Fansler 2-4 (RBI, 2B), Longnecker 1-4, Wine 1-4. WVS: Smith 1-3, Blackhurst 2-4, Payne 3-4 (R, 2 RBI, HR), Smith 1-3.
Records: FS: (21-24), S: (28-17)
9:30 a.m. Seton Hill vs. West Liberty
12:30 p.m. Davis & Elkins vs. Fairmont St.
3:30 p.m. Concord vs. Charleston
6:30 p.m. Shepherd vs. W.Va. State