STEUBENVILLE - Thursday's high school baseball game at Vacarro Field featured one team that didn't finish (Big Red) and another that just wouldn't quit (Wheeling Park).
The Patriots fell behind early, staged a late rally and left town with a 6-4 victory in eight innings. The win allowed Park to gain some revenge for a 15-2 spanking administered by the Big Red earlier in the season.
"Every day we are battling," Mike McLeod said of his Patriots. "We're never going to give up; we're always going to scratch and fight. There have been days when we scratched, fought and lost. Today, we fought, scratched and came away with the win."
NICE PLAY — Big Red second baseman John Linn throws to first for an out off a ground ball during Big?Red’s 6-4 loss to Wheeling Park Thursday at Vaccaro Field.
-- Fred Younce
Big Red, now 9-3, was poised to put the game away early. Sophomore pitcher Justin Corsi fanned the initial three Patriot hitters he faced. The hosts then got hits from their first four batters to take a 3-0 lead. Bryan Pierro and Lucky McClurg singled, JoJo Pierro laced a double to left and came home on Pat Pizzoferrato's base knock.
Ethan Jacobs led-off the Park second with a double and scored when Kyler Fitzpatrick singled.
Fred Heatherington's club had two on with no outs in its half of the frame but failed to score. The Red also was unable to capitalize in the third and fourth frames when it again had two players in scoring position.
"We scored three in the first; then we just left too many guys on the bases," Heatherington pointed out. "You can't leave guys on like that and expect to win."
Park tied things up in the sixth. J.R. Pyle doubled and Cameron Amend drove him home with a single. Amend, who drew the starting pitching assignment, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and scored on one of Big Red's two costly late-game errors.
Big Red came right back, however. Mason Heatherington drew a walk and came around to score on Bryan Pierro's triple to right-center.
Park did some more scratching and fighting in the seventh. Fitzpatrick got things started with a bloop single to right. He moved to second on Dylan Janeszko's single and both runners advanced when pinch-hitter Trevor Stewart laid down a perfect bunt. Freshman Michael Grove hit an innocent fly to first; Fitzpatrick tagged up and beat the errant throw, tying the game at four.
The hosts let another golden opportunity slip away in the bottom of the frame. Evan Westlake came off Heatherington's bench to belt a one-out triple into the left-center gap. Michael Camilletti drew an intentional walk. He, unfortunately, was caught trying to steal second. The threat ended one batter later.
The Patriots plated the game winners thanks to a double by Andrew Kawolo and Fitzpatrick's third hit of the contest. Amend started the rally when he reached on Big Red's other field error. He scored on Kawolo's hit.
Lefty Justice Jackson earned the save, setting Big Red down in 1-2-3 fashion.
"We ended up quitting halfway through the game," Heatherington added. "We just had too many guys with their heads not here today. They played to win; we played to hold on. When you play to hold on, you're not going to win. That was a game we gave away. We deserved to lose the way we played."
The freshman Grove took over for Amend in the fourth. He did an outstanding job in his first ever varsity appearance, allowing just one run and fanning three.
"He came in and held us right here," McLeod said. "He did an outstanding job."
Corsi, who went the distance, was the hard-luck loser. He fanned three and did not issue a walk.
"He battled, but we played terrible," Heatherington noted.
Bryan Pierro, McClurg and Pizzoferrato all had two hits for Big Red, which hosts Maysville and Claymont for a double-header Saturday.
Kawolo finished with two for Park, now 5-8. The Patriots visit Cambridge Saturday.
"We are trying to find the right combination leading to sectionals," McLeod said. "We got some senior leadership today. The kids like this feeling and we are going to get better."
Wheeling Park 6, Big Red 4 (8 innings)
Wheeling Park 010 002 12 - 6 9 0
Big Red 300 001 00 - 4 11 2
WHEELING PARK (5-8): Amend (3 1K 0BB), Grove (WP 3K 4BB), Jackson (S) and Pyle; Fitzpatrick 3S, 2 RBI; Kawolo D, S; Amend S, RBI; Jacobs D; Pyle D; Janeszko S.
BIG RED (9-3): Corsi (LP, 3K, 0BB) and Vojvodich; Bryan Pierro S, T, RBI; McClurg S, D; JoJo Pierro D, 2RBI; Pizzoferrato 2S, RBI; Westlake T; Petrella S; Linn S; Heatherington S.