Prep baseball: Irish take control early to top Wahama
POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. - Charleston Catholic entered Monday evening's Class A Region 4 semifinal baseball matchup against Wahama with a well-versed strategy in place.
"We knew that Hunter Bradley is a very good pitcher for Wahama so we knew he'd be settling in after a couple of innings," Catholic Coach Bill Mehle said. "Coming into the game we emphasized to the kids to play the first inning like it's the seventh and just try to find a way to win that inning."
Fortunately for the Irish, they were able to do just that in jumping to a six run lead after two innings and holding off a late rally en route to a 6-2 at Point Pleasant High.
Catholic (26-9), which bested Wahama for the third time this season, will play at Parkersburg Catholic at 5 p.m. Wednesday, with its third straight State Tournament berth on the line.
Wahama's season ended at 18-12. It was the third straight season in which the Irish have eliminated the White Falcons from postseason play.
Catholic jumped on Bradley with a pair of runs in the first inning when Rocco Wilcox scored on an infield error and Connor Golden crossed the plate on a two-out RBI single by Hoyer.
The Irish plated four in the second inning on RBI singles by Nelson McKown, Hovorka and Wilcox.
Wilcox and Sam McKown paced Catholic with two hits apiece.
"We were able to get on him (Bradley) in the first and second innings," Mehle said. "He did settle down, hit his spots and kept our guys off balance. We just emphasized getting some runs early and then just trusting out pitching and defense to keep us in the game."
Catholic, which has won five straight games and 14 of its last 15, received solid pitching efforts from a pair of returning All-State performers.
Andy Hoyer (9-1), a second-team All-State selection a year ago went six innings, allowing just five hits and one walk, while striking out 10.
Returning first-team selection, Kiefer Hovorka worked a perfect seventh inning to pick up the save for the Irish.
"They've been doing really well," Mehle said of Hoyer and Hovorka. "They've just been pitching ahead. They've been throwing a lot of first pitch strikes and keeping the hitters off balance. They've been very effective."
The Irish topped Parkersburg Catholic 10-5 in their only regular season meeting at Triana Field.
And while Mehle hasn't decided who he'll send to the mound for the rematch, he knows that he has four solid options against the Crusaders among Hoyer, Hovorka, Golden and Wilcox.
"We have four very good arms so we have a lot of options going into each game in the postseason," Mehle said. "We'll make our decisions based on game situations as to who is going to take the hill. We feel confident in all four guys and our defense has been solid."
Demetrius Serevicz led Wahama's offense with a two doubles and a pair of RBI.