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‘Jackets are a win from Charleston

WHEELING — For the second time in this postseason, the Wheeling Central baseball team has its back against the wall.

The Maroon Knights dropped Game 1 of the best of three W.Va. Class A Region One Championship Series 11-6 to Williamstown on Monday at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Baseball Complex.

Williamstown will host Game 2 today at 5 p.m. with Braydin Coleman (Williamstown) and Ben Foster (Central) as the probable pitchers.

Wheeling Central also faced elimination three times in the Region One, Section One Tournament and won three straight games to advance to the regional.

“We are a resilient bunch and we talked about that in the huddle,” Central coach Jason Rowe said. “We’ve played in three elimination games and we have confidence in ourselves. We’re playing good baseball but it was just an off day (Monday) and that’s the way baseball is.”

The Yellow Jackets are also feeling confident taking a 1-0 series lead back to their home park.

“That’s always fantastic to win the first game of a possible three-game series,” Williamstown coach Levi Maxwell said. “It puts us in a good spot to know what we are expecting, and I think our pitching is going to give us a good chance.”

Central pitchers allowed 17 free passes in the Game 1 loss with 15 walks and two hit batsmen.

“It was just one of those days,” Rowe said. “(Central starting pitcher) Michael Toepfer even said it in the huddle that he was off (Monday). It is what it is. You just have to come back, have a baseball mind, forget about it and come and play (today).”

The control issues began early as Toepfer walked three in the first inning, including a bases-loaded walk to Baylor Haught to plate the game’s first run. Another run came home on a wild pitch for a 2-0 Williamstown edge.

The Knights got a run back in the bottom of the stanza on a RBI single from Kaden Yocum before the skies opened up and an hour rain delay ensued.

Williamstown picked right back up where it left off by plating one run in every inning and blowing it open with a four-run sixth.

Brady Ankrom’s two-run double was the key hit in the sixth.

“I liked our guys one through nine (Monday),” Maxwell said. “I thought they were very patient. We are disciplined enough to understand the situation of putting the ball in play and getting good counts to hit in and we did a good job of that (Monday).”

Central pushed one run across in the fifth on a RBI triple by Toepfer and started to rally in the seventh with four runs as Nick Tsoras and Toepfer both plated runs and Yocum delivered a two-run knock but it was too little, too late.

Leewood Molessa struck out nine and walked two in 6.1 innings before Chase Barkley came on to finish the game.

“We teach all of our pitchers to attack the zone,” Maxwell said. “We make them hit the baseball and make them earn it and Leewood did a good job of that.”

Ethan Holbert smacked two hits and plated a run for Williamstown, while Molessa tallied a double and two RBI, Luke Ankrom singled and drove in two and Haught finished with two RBI.

Yocum paced the Knights with two hits and three RBI, while Toepfer charted a triple and two RBI.

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