Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — After last season’s letdown, Wheelersburg wasn’t about to make it a trend.
With a trip to a Division III district championship hanging in the balance, the Pirates took advantage of a routine fielding errors and exploded for six runs in the third inning on their way to an 11-1 victory over Paint Valley.
The Pirates (20-6) pounded out 13 hits against Paint Valley’s two aces, Lane Mettler and Brock Blanton.
“We knew coming in that we were going to see one or both of them,” Wheelersburg coach Derek Moore. “They both throw lower to mid-80s and they both throw good breaking balls. That’s what we worked on this week. We had different people throwing off the mounds and we worked on hitting faster speeds. I thought today was one of our best hitting performances of the year.”
Meanwhile, Trey Carter kept the Bearcats’ offense off-balance at the dish. The senior didn’t strike out a single batter but let his defense work, allowing just three hits.
“He’ll even tell you he didn’t have his best stuff today,” Moore said. “He gave up one in the second and kept the damage there. He did a good job commanding the zone.”
Wheelersburg struck first after Jalen Miller notched an RBI groundout for a 1-0 lead. However, Paint Valley countered back with a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Hunter Hamlin to tie things in the top of the second.
The Pirates retook the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the third following a bunt that resulted in a throwing error, scoring Athan Temponeras all the way from first base.
That began the complete downfall of the Bearcats.
Two batters later with a pair of runners on, Trey Carter cleared the bases with a 2-run triple to left field. He later scored on a fielding error that extended the lead to 5-1.
The next three batters (Will Darling, Cole Ratcliff and Athan Temponeras) each ripped RBI singles, pushing the Pirate lead to 8-1.
Wheelersburg added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth via a 2-run single from Cooper McKenzie. It tallied the final run in the fifth after Miller ripped a sacrifice fly to right field to cap the game.
Macky McDonald led Paint Valley (18-11), going 1-for-3 at the plate while Hunter Hamlin ended the night 1-for-1 with the team’s lone RBI.
Carter finished 2-for-3 at the dish with a triple, two runs and two RBIs. McKenzie finished with two RBIs, while four other Pirates each added an RBI each.
The Pirates face off against Westfall at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at VA Memorial Stadium for a Division III district championship.
“Westfall is ranked in the state right now and that’s a good program,” Moore said. “Good arms, everything like that. We’re going to have to play our best.”