PHS rallies from four-run deficit

PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg baseball has a tendency of keeping fans in their seats.

For the third time this season, the Big Reds won a one-run game in their final at bat. Thursday night against Marietta at City Park, Cole Day’s one-out single over the left fielder’s head drove home Kyle Foster from third base and put the finishing touch on a 5-4 win in eight innings.

With two games scheduled today at the McDonald’s Classic in Bridgeport, Parkersburg extends its winning streak to four games and improves to 6-1.

“This group does not give up,” PHS coach Alan Burns said. “We did calm down after a while and we got right back in it after that first inning.”

Marietta, which let a scoring opportunity slip away in the top of the eighth inning after putting the first two runners on base, dropped to 3-3 after being limited to two hits. The Tigers struck out 12 times against PHS starting pitcher Jeff Davis.

“Our goal to was to score first, which we did – we just didn’t play any add-on after that,” Marietta coach Jim Thrash said. “Even with only two hits we had our chances. Give credit to PHS on the mound for getting the outs when they needed them.

“Our pitchers kept us in the game and our defense was pretty good all the way around.”

After walking the first two batters of the game and allowing four runs in the top of the first inning, Davis’ appearance was hanging by a thread. But the right-hander surrendered just one more hit – a single by Josh Moretto to lead off the fourth inning – the rest of the night and punched out the 12 Tiger hitters, including six looking, in seven innings of work.

“Going into the third inning is when Jeff Davis became a pitcher,” Burns said. “He was a thrower up until then. We were about to pull him in the second inning.

“After the sixth inning, he came off the field and we asked him about his arm and he said he wanted to pitch another inning. When you see that desire in their face, you know they can do it.”

Marietta starting pitcher Corey Hill, meanwhile, retired the side in order in the first inning but was greeted with a single by Cole Parker and a double by Kyle Foster to open the second frame. Davis followed with a walk and one out later the Big Reds were on the board when Day delivered a sacrifice fly.

The deficit became just one run at 4-3 when PHS’ No. 9 hitter in the lineup, Matt Maloney, hit a Hill offering back through the box and into center field for a two-run single.

While Marietta went scoreless the rest of the way, Hill found his rhythm by retiring nine batters in a row. The 10th batter, Levi Casto, ruined the streak with two outs in the fifth inning after doubling down the left field line that bounced off the third base bag and skipped over the fielder’s head.

After Logan Dudley walked, Parker lined an opposite field single to right. Casto scored from second base and tied the game at 4. Hill walked the bases full, but Trent Dawson entered in relief and struck out the final batter of the inning.

In the eighth inning, both sides had scoring chances. Marietta failed to convert, while PHS produced the winning run. For the Tigers, Casto walked Austin Hefter and hit Moretto with a pitch with nobody out. Coach Burns immediately came out of the dugout and brought in sophomore Wade Garret.

Michael Ullman bunted the runners to second and third, but two consecutive infield flies ended the threat.

“Anything we ask of Wade, he does,” Burns said. “He is always asking the coaching staff what he needs to work on. You really love kids like that.”

For the Big Reds in their half of the eighth inning, Foster led off with a walk then stole second on the first pitch to Davis. On the very next pitch, Davis laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Foster to third base. After an intentional walk to Garret, Day sent a no-doubter over the head of the left fielder for the game-winning RBI.