NORTH FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Moments after Oak Glen secured a 5-4 victory against Fairmont Senior on Wednesday, the Golden Bears had another tall task awaiting in the form of Class A No. 3 Wheeling Central.
Things didn’t go nearly as well for Oak Glen in its second game at Wild Things Park. The Maroon Knights had a pair of pitchers combine for a no-hitter, while they scored four first-inning runs without recording a hit en route to a 14-2 win.
“We had a very big and emotional win the first game against Fairmont and we lost a little bit of focus,” Oak Glen coach T.J. Miller said. “Central is very well-coached and they have some players on that team. You can’t get in a hole and expect to bounce back every time. We lost focus and didn’t play good ball.”
Golden Bears’ starting pitcher Kaleb Dailey had great difficulty finding the strike zone early and issued four walks to go with a hit batsman over the game’s first five batters.
Central’s Michael Toepfer and Sonny Peluchette drew bases loaded walks to bring home the first two runs, before Domininc Pompeo lifted a sacrifice fly which scored Adam Murray. Jacob Rine’s groundout to second plated Toepfer for the final run of the inning.
“We don’t have a hit and score four runs, but that’s the game of baseball sometimes,” Central coach Bo McConnaughy said. “We built on that.”
The Maroon Knights produced their first hit in the second inning and it brought in another run as Murray double to score Avery Lee for a 5-0 lead.
That seemed to ignite the Wheeling Central (13-6) offense, and in the third, the Maroon Knights recorded seven hits to double their advantage.
Peluchette and Pompeo had consecutive singles to start the inning, but it was five straight hits with two outs that allowed Central to open up the 10-run advantage.
Enzio Figaretti scored Peluchette on a single to short, before Lee’s ground rule double to center allowed Clay Slyder to come home.
Angelo Gentile and Murray added consecutive RBI singles and Central scored its 10th run on Toepfer’s double to left, which plated Gentile.
“I’m never satisfied, but we’re getting to where I want us to be,” McConnaughy said. “We’re not there yet. We have seven games left and at the end of those seven, I hope we’re where we should be.”
Pompeo threw out his second attempted base stealer in the bottom of the third and Central starting pitcher Kaden Yocum worked around three walks in the fourth to keep the Golden Bears off the scoreboard.
Yocum walked the first three batters of the fifth and was removed in favor of Ben Foster.
Foster immediately induced a double play ball back to the mound giving Central a chance to close out the win in five innings. But Michael Lemley’s ground ball to third led to the Maroon Knights’ lone error and enabled Blake Almo and Garrett Brewer to score, sending the game to the sixth with Central leading 10-2.
Toepfer connected for a two-run triple in the seventh and Peluchette and Pompeo added RBI singles to complete the scoring.
Foster retired Oak Glen (10-7) in order in the sixth and seventh innings to preserve the combined no-hitter.
“Central’s a very good team. I’m not going to take anything away from them,” Miller said. “They played a very good game, but that wasn’t our best showing whatsoever.”
Yocum got the win and struck out five, but issued nine walks. Foster faced only nine batters over three scoreless innings in relief.
Central’s first five hitters finished 10-for-17 with 10 RBIs and 12 runs.
Lee scored four times and Gentile had three runs, while Toepfer drove in four and Murray had a pair of RBIs.
Peluchette was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
“The top of the lineup has been good for us most of the year,” McConnaughy said. “Although I made some changes in the lineup today, which I think we’ll try to stay with. But we’re trying to get ready and peak for the postseason.”