Prep baseball: Irish plate seven runs in fourth, earn win
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If the biggest concern of Charleston Catholic Coach Bill Mehle was his baseball team stringing together quality at-bats, he saw everything he needed on Tuesday night against Parkersburg Catholic at Triana Field.
The Irish caught up to pitcher Mike Hinton, scoring seven runs in the fourth inning en route to a 10-5 victory over its private school counterpart.
The victory improved Charleston Catholic to 12-5 entering its toughest stretch of the regular season where the Irish visits undefeated Herbert Hoover tonight, and Valley on Thursday before visits to Class AAA George Washington on Friday and Logan on Saturday.
Despite the big fourth, three runs in the sixth put the game out of reach for the Irish, which was clinging to a two-run lead.
"What we talked about in the post game was the biggest plays of the game were the bunt singles (in the sixth)," said Mehle, whose team received a single, and back-to-back bunts from Kiefer Hovorka and Rocco Wilcox in the sixth. "In the tight games that we've been in, like against Madonna when we lost 1-0 in extra innings, we weren't able to get the well-placed bunt down when we needed it."
The Irish - who Mehle said had to make a 10-mile per hour adjustment - took some time to get to Hinton, the Crusaders' burly right-hander whose delivery and off-speed pitches kept the hosts off balance. He was solid long enough for the Crusaders (10-6) to score the game's first run on a third-inning single by Jake Boice.
The hits then started coming for the Irish in the fourth, starting with back-to-back doubles by Andy Hoyer and Drew Cable, a walk to Jack Crockett, singles by Thad Jameson and Russell Miller and a two-run double by Connor Golden. Charleston Catholic batted around in the inning with Hoyer going 2-for-2 with a double, run scored, single, RBI and stolen base in the fourth.
"We were battling," said Parkersburg Catholic Coach Tom Harvey, who is in his seventh year guiding the Crusaders. "We kept them off balance and we had one inning lapse and they hit the ball hard, we let a ball get over our heads, they put it in play, do some bunt action ... solid team. We have to be focused and play our best for seven innings to compete with the Charleston Catholics."
Hinton stayed on top of the Irish for three innings, not allowing a runner past second base - the third reached second on a balk - and throwing only 38 pitches.
"His pitching was kind of hard to get adjusted to, he had a short-armed action," Golden said. "He came right out of the glove and went straight up. That's something we're definitely not used to. Picking the ball up was a little bit easier, but watching his full arm action, we just found a way."
Once they found a way, hitting became contagious for the 2012 Class A state semifinalists.
"They're well coached. They're staying back, spreading out and getting a good swing on it instead of getting out in front of it," Harvey said. "(Hinton) got a little tired. Our reliever (Tony Borelli) isn't here and I didn't want to bring in a pitcher cold out of the field. We tried to get out of the inning and they got a little bit more than we wanted and it got away from us."
The Crusaders were missing two players because of injuries and one who was participating in an academic function.
Despite the lack of numbers, Parkersburg Catholic closed the gap again in the fifth. The Crusaders received a two-out single from star center fielder Mitch Davis before Boice was hit by a pitch. Junior Jake Ullman, who leads the Crusaders with a .561 average, singled in Davis. Austin Luther followed with a two-run double to cut the lead to three. Davis was 3-for-3 with a double for the Crusaders.
A wild pitch in the sixth allowed Hinton to score before the Irish were able to cobble together insurance runs.
Charleston Catholic's Golden, Hovorka and Hoyer had two hits apiece, with Golden and Hoyer knocking in two runs apiece.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.