FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Wheeling Park jumped on Fairmont Senior early, then closed Wednesday’s contest in strong fashion to secure an 11-5 victory at Mary Lou Retton Park.
“I think we’re getting closer every day. We’re gaining momentum and these guys are starting to come together,” Park coach Steve Myers said. “We have a couple things we still need to probably tighten up but I like how we’re progressing right now.”
The Patriots (16-8) got a big performance from shortstop Trevor Thomas, who finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs in the victory.
Thomas reached on an error in his first at bat, which allowed Mason Richardson to score for a 1-0 Wheeling Park lead.
Fairmont Senior (14-9) got even when it came to bat in the first after the Polar Bears drew four walks, including one by Connor Saunders that enabled Cam Hines to score.
But the Patriots went in front for good with five runs in the second inning.
James Salvatori singled to left to bring home Brock Archer and after the Patriots loaded the bases, Thomas cleared them with a double to left that put the Patriots up, 5-1.
“We had some really good at bats,” Myers said.
Park scored its sixth run on a play that saw Billy Gooch steal second and Thomas break home from third on the throw down.
However, the Polar Bears got right back in it when they came to bat in the second.
Rhett Heston singled home Stash Apanowicz and the Polar Bears made it 6-3 after a double play with the bases loaded allowed Heston to score.
Connor Neal’s two-out single scored Hines to trim the Polar Bears’ deficit to two runs heading to the third inning.
Heston’s two-out single in the third plated Elijah Posey to make it a one-run game, but the Polar Bears got no closer.
Instead, Ben Taylor had an RBI single in the fourth and ultimately scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-5.
Noah Martinez crossed the plate in the fifth on a wild pitch that gave the Patriots a four-run cushion, and Park added more insurance in the seventh on Nolan Mattern’s two-run single to left.
“We want to get their starter working really hard and we don’t want to give any easy outs,” Myers said. “That’s kind of the approach we’ve been taking is have a good AB and be a tough out.”
The Patriots’ Ryan Hummel pitched three shutout innings in relief, striking out four and scattering a pair of hits.
“Trevor Rosenthal came in and did a really nice job and then Ryan Hummel finished the game,” Myers said. “And those are guys we’re going to lean on in the postseason, so we wanted to make sure they all got some work today.”
Exavier Posey took the loss after allowing six runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Richardson and Archer each had two hits, while Hines, Heston and Apanowicz finished with two hits apiece in defeat.