PHS falls to Park, 7-3

PARKERSBURG – Justice Jackson slammed a bases-loaded double in the top of the sixth inning to halt a Parkersburg High comeback and lift visiting Wheeling Park over the Big Reds 7-3 at City Park Thursday.

PHS, now 2-1 after suffering its first loss of the season, trailed 4-0 after three innings with Park starter Michael Grove mowing down the Big Red hitters to the tune of eight strikeouts, no walks and only one hit.

Then the Patriots changed pitchers with the PHS batters coming alive against reliever Daniel Baciak in the bottom of the fourth frame. With one out, Jeff Davis doubled over the left fielder’s head.

The Park second sacker then bobbled a ball hit to him for an error, with it rolling behind him as Davis raced home to cut the deficit to 4-1.

Levi Casto followed with a single off the third-base bag, a passed ball moved both base-runners up to second and third, Cole Parker delivered an RBI single and a groundout to shortstop plated run No. 3 for the Big Red, closing the gap to 4-3.

But in the top of the sixth, Park (1-0) loaded the bases with two outs on three walks, setting the stage for Jackson’s big hit.

He smashed a drive to deep right-center that outfielder Rex Windland tried to dive for, but couldn’t make the catch on as all three runners circled the bases.

Then southpaw Justice, working two innings in a closer’s role, shut down PHS in its final two at-bats with just a walk, and a double play erased that, in facing only the minimum of six hitters.

The Patriots had built their early 4-0 advantage through three innings on a pair on RBI groundouts, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.

“I guess I’m satisfied to be 2-1, but I’d rather be 3-0 right now,” said PHS head coach Alan Burns.

“We didn’t come ready to play today though. Park has a nice team, and a really nice pitching staff. Their first pitcher (Grove) I think overpowered us. We kind of got blown away by him. We were taking pitches, and he was painting the corners really well, and we weren’t making adjustments.”

Then in the sixth, Burns said, “we were one pitch from it being 4-3 yet.

“Plus, I told our kids that Park got only five hits, but they scored seven runs. And we walked six and hit two, so our pitching has to do a better job than that.”

Although Burns thought that Cole Parker “did a nice job coming in (in relief of starter Anthony Kist) and shut them down after getting off to a 4-0 start.”