Wheeling Park rallies past Morgantown to advance to states

MORGANTOWN — As Game 3 of the Class AAA Region I tournament entered the seventh inning Wednesday, Wheeling Park — trailing Morgantown 5-3 — knew it had just one chance left to save their season. They made the most of the opportunity.
The Patriots rallied late, stringing together three runs in their final at-bats to secure a 6-5 victory and earn a spot in the state tournament.
“I’d just and they come back and battled like that. You can’t coach that or teach that, but that’s just the character of these boys.
“You always respect the game. Baseball is a funny game. It bounces different ways, and it’s hard to beat somebody that doesn’t give up.”
In the home dugout, Morgantown (28-7) was cautiously optimistic starting the final inning; after a wild game that featured five lead changes in the first six innings, the game was all but won. Starting pitcher Colton Matthews secured a quick strikeout, but a double and a walk put a pair of runners on base.
With just six tosses remaining before Matthews hit the maximum pitch count and was required to leave the mound, Charlie Petty entered the game to close.
Wheeling Park (20-9) would take advantage of the loss of rhythm at the mound for Morgantown.
Nolan Mattern connected on a line-drive double to drive in two runs to tie the game and then scored the game-winning run on Isaac Hines’ sacrifice fly.
“You never really know what’s going to happen,” Matthews said. “We were up by two runs, we get one out, but a kid hits a double and it turns into three runs. That’s all it takes. Game over.”
Morgantown would have one last chance at the plate.
Devon Neal hit a deep fly ball that was hauled in at the warning track and that was about it for the Mohigans in the seventh.
In a game dictated by chaos — ending with a combined four unearned runs, six errors, and six lead changes — Morgantown coach Mark McCarty felt his team failed to convert on too many early opportunities which would have helped secure the win. Morgantown finished the contest with a batting average of .266, well below their season average of .344, and left 17 runners on base.
“We didn’t make plays when we had to. We didn’t swing the bats in big situations,” McCarty said. “We had lots of people who had chances to score and we didn’t. We left too many runners out there.”
“We had a lot of missed opportunities in the beginning of the game,” added Matthews. “We had the bases loaded, no outs, and didn’t score a single run. Stuff like that costs you. We have to put balls in play and make something happen.”
Trevor Thomas earned the win on the mound for Wheeling Park, while Petty took the loss for Morgantown. Ryan Hummel started for the Patriots and recorded six strikeouts, while both Matthews and Petty tallied one strikeout each.
Park was led at the plate by Hines and Jacob Shia with two hits each, and Mattern with one hit and two RBIs. Morgantown’s Preston Fox and Neal paced their squad with two hits each, while Matthews’ recorded the sole RBI.

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