Wheeling Central tops Williamstown in regional, forces Game 3

Photo by Joe Albright Williamstown’s Harbor Haught takes a lead off second base during a high school baseball regional game against Wheeling Central Tuesday. Central won, 8-4.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Wheeling Central head coach Jason Rowe required a special effort from pitcher Ben Foster in order for the Maroon Knights to keep their season alive.

One night after his staff gave up 17 free passes in an 11-6 loss to Williamstown, more of the same couldn’t happen.

Foster made sure the debacle didn’t occur, again.

Carrying a huge weight on his shoulders, the junior allowed just two walks and two earned runs over 5.1 innings, his offense spotted him an early 3-0 lead, and the Maroon Knights sent the Class A Region I tournament back to Wheeling with an 8-4 win over the Yellowjackets.

“He’s been big all year. He knows how to pitch. He doesn’t throw very hard but just controls the game,” Rowe said of Foster.

That command showed up from the very outset. Bolstered by an immediate 2-0 lead thanks to runs brought home by teammate Kaden Yocum and himself, Foster allowed just one base runner over the first four innings of the contest. Leewood Molessa’s double in his first at-bat was the lone whack.

And as he did his thing, his Central teammates and him expanded the lead. His RBI single in the third made it 3-0.

“We talk about getting in front all the time, especially against a good team like Williamstown. And once we jump on them we try to score every inning. And that way if we stay on top they can’t ever catch up to us,” Rowe said.

After a quick bottom of the frame, that philosophy went into action.

Runs came in droves as Knights bats exploded against Williamstown’s Braydin Coleman for a four spot and an 8-0 lead. Carson Kuhns got things started when he reached on a single between the gap of the second and first baseman. Eli Tucker and he crossed the plate after Payton Hildebrand reached on a single Williamstown had trouble handling.

It was exactly how Rowe and company drew it up. The Yellowjackets got within 8-4 when Chase Barkley rounded to score on an error from second baseman Michael Toepfer in the bottom of the seventh. Any other hope faded away as Brady Ankrom and Ethan Holbert left Leewood Molessa and Trevor Powell stranded to end the game.

“Tip your cap to the pitchers. They were throwing strikes and keeping us off balance and we just couldn’t get it done,” Williamstown head coach Levi Maxwell said.

Coleman may have had a rough start, giving up 12 hits and six earned runs over seven innings. But his bravery and willingness to take one for the team saved the bullpen for Game 3. Everyone but Leewood and he are available.

The two teams play the do-or-die contest at 5 p.m. today inside Wheeling’s I-470 Fields.

Tsoras takes the mound for the Knights, while Barkley tries to send the Yellowjackets to the state tournament.

“We feel really confident right now,” Rowe said. “We have one eight of our last 10 games and we feel like we are playing really good ball.”

The Knights received solid all around efforts from plenty of people in the lineup. Five different players recorded multi-hit games.

Williamstown was led by Barkley, Molessa and Powell, as all of them had two hits apiece.

Maxwell and company are ready to get back to work today.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Chase to put us in a situation to win,” he said. “We just have to score runs.”


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