MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Throughout Monday’s Class AAA Region I, Section 1 elimination game, there were ample opportunities for Wheeling Park and Morgantown to feel dejected with what was transpiring at ISS Field at Mylan Park.
However, there was no sign either team feeling sorry for itself. Although the Patriots battled back after falling behind 7-0 and then overcame a three-run deficit in their final at bat, the Mohigans ultimately scored their second walk-off win this postseason by scoring two in the home half of the seventh to prevail, 12-11.
“You get comfortable and you think you have it in the bag, but they started coming through,” Morgantown coach Lorri Lipscomb said. “Wheeling Park always plays their best games here. We’ve gone extra innings with them and we’ve had close ones. At least we’re staying the course and finishing strong when we’re the home team.”
With the win, Morgantown (13-10-1) advances to play at John Marshall at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The Mohigans, who defeated the Patriots 8-7 in walk-off fashion last week, need two victories over the Monarchs without a loss to claim the sectional championship.
They almost never got the opportunity to extend their season after the Patriots (11-18) scored six runs in the fifth inning to turn a 7-1 deficit into a tie game.
“It just shows the type of girls we have,” Park coach Pat Durkin said of his team’s late-game rally.
But when Morgantown came to bat in the sixth with the game still knotted at seven, the Mohigans answered in just the fashion they desired, getting a towering three-run home run from Emily Goldcamp to lead 10-7.
However, that advantage didn’t hold up when Wheeling Park scored four runs to take its first lead of the game in the top of the seventh. The inning featured Katelyn Kozlowski’s triple that scored Makenna Kelly, who had led off with a walk. After Morgantown pitcher Mikala Rogers struck out the next two batters, Park got a run-scoring single from Fayth Kozlowski to draw to within one run.
One of two Morgantown errors prolonged the game instead of producing the final out, and allowed the Patriots to turn their lineup over. Park leadoff hitter Mary Derrow capitalized on that opportunity with a two-run single that gave the Patriots an 11-10 lead — their first of the contest.
“We had strong pitching from Mikala early, but I don’t know if endurance affected her,” Lipscomb said of Rogers, who returned from concussion protocol for the contest. “She had some issues with balance on the mound and she’s good about figuring out what she’s doing wrong, but they made good adjustments in the box and started getting some hits together. Kudos to them. It was a great game and they fought hard.”
Emily Peterson led off with a single in the bottom of the inning to put the tying run on base. With Peterson on second and the Mohigans down to their final out, Maris Anthony delivered a bloop single to center that brought in the tying run.
“We’ve done that all season long and it’s been one of our stronger points,” Lipscomb said. “We have fought throughout the game and when we’ve gotten down, we’ve been able to come back.”
Anthony went on to score the winning run moments later when Goldcamp sent a ground ball to second base that resulted in an error — the Patriots’ seventh of their season-ending setback.
“We had some girls make some mistakes at the end that they normally don’t make, but that can happen,” Durkin said.
Morgantown connected for five hits to score four runs in the opening inning, while chasing Park starting pitcher Shelby Crow after she recorded only one out. Crow was charged with all four runs in the first, which featured a two-run single from Abigail Harki as well as Micah Wilson’s RBI single.
Morgantown pushed three more runs across in the second, which was highlighted by Anthony’s infield single that allowed Jocelyn McCartney to come home.
“I don’t know if it was pregame jitters or what when we first started out,” Durkin said.
Faith Randolph’s RBI single in the top of the third got the Patriots on the scoreboard, but Rogers was quite effective through the first half of her outing on the mound, holding WPHS to one run through four innings.
When the fifth came around, it was a different story as the Park lineup got going in a big way. The Patriots connected for seven hits in the inning, including a bases clearing double from Katelyn Kozlowski with two outs that turned a 7-3 deficit into a one-run game. Crow’s RBI single to right later in the inning tied the game and it stood that way until Goldcamp’s long ball in the sixth.
“We made a lot of mistakes, but we still played well for making the mistakes we did,” Durkin said. “We battled and didn’t quit.”
Rogers tossed all seven innings for Morgantown, surrendering 14 hits and striking out seven while issuing three base-on-balls.
Dalaney Theiss threw 6 1/3 innings in relief and took the loss for Park after scattering eight runs on 11 hits.
Anthony finished 4-for-4 with four runs and a pair of RBIs to key the Mohigan’s 14-hit attack. Goldcamp, Harki and Peterson added two hits apiece.
Derrow had three hits to lead Park, while both Kozlowskis joined Crow and Nolte as Patriots with two hits in defeat.
“I told them, ‘remember how bad this feels and whatever you do this summer and this winter, work toward not having this feeling again. Whatever you need to do to make yourself better, do it,’” Durkin said. “They’ll start tomorrow and they’ll come back strong.”