WHEELING, W.Va. — For the fourth time this postseason, Wheeling Central Catholic entered a game facing elimination. The result was the same as the three contests that came before.

The Maroon Knights defeated Ritchie County 7-4 to win the decisive game of the Class A, Region 1 series. With the win, Central (22-9) returns to the state tournament. They fell to Moorefield in last year’s state championship game.

Central scored all of their runs in the first two innings. Leading 1-0 in the second inning, the Maroon Knights used a 6-hit attack to push six runs across the plate. “We have had a tendency the last six to eight games to get a big lead and then we just sit on it,” said Wheeling Central Catholic head coach Bo McConnaughy.

The Rebels answered with a four-run third inning to pull within 7-4. Dylan Taylor and Garrett Owens had back-to-back two-run singles for the visitors.

Sonny Peluchette settled in on the mound after a rocky third inning. He went the distance for Central, allowing seven hits while striking out four batters. “I told him at the end that if he didn’t start throwing strikes, he was going to have to come out of the game because of the pitch count,” McConnaughy said. “He settled down and did the job.”

Peluchette also led the Maroon Knights at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Central won three consecutive elimination games in the sectional round to qualify for the regional. State tournament seedings and schedules will be released Thursday morning.

Ritchie County’s season ends with a record of 21-13.

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