Ritchie County uses 5-run third inning to get past Class A No. 7 Notre Dame, 7-5

ELLENBORO, W.Va. — Ritchie County wasn’t at its best Monday in a matchup with Class A No. 7 Notre Dame at Schofield & Butcher Field.

Yet the Rebels strung together quality at bats throughout the third inning to score five runs and take the lead, and starting pitcher Jeremy Darnold logged six strong innings to make the advantage hold up in a 7-5 victory over the Irish.

“I told them to get back to fundamentals, take level swings on the ball,” Ritchie coach Danny Vanoy said of the offensive outburst in the third. “We were trying to go yard with it and just needed line drives and to work the pitch count. Get the pitch count in your favor and try to get a good pitch to hit. Then don’t miss it when you get it.”

With the win, RCHS evened its record to 10-10.

The Rebels overcame a pair of base running blunders early, the first of which saw them miss out on the game’s first run after leadoff batter Isaiah Lambert singled and got to third with no outs, but didn’t tag up on a fly ball that almost certainly would’ve allowed him to score.

In the second, Ritchie couldn’t capitalize on Garrett Cunningham’s leadoff single as it was immediately followed by a fly ball hauled in by Irish shortstop Gene Hutchinson, who then flipped to first base to complete a double play.

“I’m real happy with the win, but we have some things to clean up,” Vanoy said.

The Irish (13-6) broke through in the top of the third. Singles from Tyler Marra and Andrew Rogers allowed ND to put runners at the corners with one out. Rogers then stole second base and on the throw down, Marra took off from third to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

The advantage, however, was short-lived.

Gavin Easton belted a one-out double to left to score Austin Bartlett with the tying run, and it was a sign of things to come in that frame for the Rebels.

The rest of the damage came with two outs, including a ground rule double off the bat of Bryar Lamp that allowed Easton to score for the Rebels’ first lead. In the next at bat, Quentin Owens connected for a double — Ritchie’s third of the inning — to plate Lamp for a 3-1 lead.

Cunningham’s single scored Owens for the fourth run, before Ritchie upped its advantage to 5-1 on an error that enabled Rhett Johnson to touch the plate.

“We’ve gone through a long streak of games where our bats have been quiet and we’re making mental errors — errors on the field and on the base paths,” Irish coach Trenton Lehasky said. “It seems like our heads not all the way in it right now, so we have to find it before playoff ball starts.”

ND got a run back in the fourth courtesy of a Rebels’ error that allowed Hutchinson to score after he doubled to start the inning.

But the deficit didn’t stay at three long for the Irish.

Instead, a walk and two errors allowed Ritchie to load the bases to start the fourth. The Rebels capitalized by scoring twice — first on Lambert’s bunt single that brought Garrett Flesher home, then on Lamp’s sacrifice fly to center that allowed Bartlett to come home.

“Ritchie doesn’t get enough respect,” Lehasky said. “One through nine, they hit the ball solid.”

The Irish loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Darnold induced consecutive ground ball outs to escape with no damage.

Both teams stranded a pair of runners in the sixth and Ritchie took the 7-2 lead into the seventh, before getting a scare from the Irish.

With two on and no outs, Hutchinson doubled to center to score Dominick Bombardiere and advance Noah Mazzie to third. That marked the end of the outing for Darnold, who was relieved by Cunningham

Mazzie scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-4, and a groundout from Cole Goldizen brought Hutchinson home to cut ND’s deficit to two.

Preston Heslep drew a one-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Cunningham struck out Isaac Wolfe and got Marra to hit a ground ball to second for the game’s final out.

“They’re a good hitting team and that was their fourth time through the order seeing him,” Vanoy said. “He was getting tired and it was time to make a change and get some help. Cunningham came in and did a pretty good job to close things out.”

The Rebels finished with eight hits to the Irish’s seven. Lambert and Cunningham had two hits apiece in the win.

Darnold picked up the victory by allowing five runs on seven hits over six-plus innings. He struck out six and walked a pair.

“We’re right there really close to being where we want to be,” Vanoy said.

Rogers and Hutchinson had two hits apiece in defeat, with both of Hutchinson’s knocks going for doubles.

Wolfe took the loss after being charged with seven runs on seven hits over five innings. He struck out five and issued two base-on-balls.

“He’s always strong and gets out of tough situations,” Lehasky said, “but we can’t have one inning beat us — and one inning did.”

It marked the Rebels’ second victory this season against the Irish in as many tries.

More Sports

Class A All-State Softball list
June 7, 2023 - 12:03 am
Moss, Parker among nominees for College Football Hall of Fame
This marks Moss' first year on the ballot.
June 6, 2023 - 11:41 pm
North-South notebook: Burdette, Agosti grateful for opportunity to coach; Hartman readies for final football game
Roane County's Paul Burdette, a player in the North-South game 25 years ago, will lead the North while Van's Mark Agosti guides the South. Both helped lead their respective high school programs to unbeaten regular seasons in 2022.
June 6, 2023 - 9:52 pm
Doddridge County to welcome St. Marys for MetroNews SSAC Kickoff Game
A live broadcast will be available for the Wednesday, August 23 high school football season opener at Cline Stansberry Stadium.
June 6, 2023 - 3:24 pm