WEST UNION, W.Va. (WV News) — Stranding eight runners wasn’t indicative of timely-hitting struggles by the Petersburg baseball team.
The Vikings had at least two base runners in each inning of their 11-0 run-rule victory in five innings over Doddridge County in Game 1 of the Class A Region II baseball playoff on Monday at Doddridge County.
The Bulldogs will have to win the rematch at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Petersburg to avoid elimination and force a winner-take-all game three.
Not only did the Vikings get 10 hits — including hits against the infield shift the Bulldogs put on — but they drew nine walks.
Petersburg starting pitcher William Van Meter pitched a five-inning complete game and only allowed two hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.
“He was throwing strikes and they played great defense,” Doddridge County coach Cary Schafer said of Van Meter. “You walk nine, you give five outs in one inning, I don’t care (who you are), you’re not going to beat anybody. Not to say they aren’t a good ball club — they are — but you can’t give stuff away. We have to bounce back tomorrow.”
The Vikings squandered an early scoring opportunity in the first inning when Doddridge County second baseman Jacob Dehaven caught a line drive hit near him and fired to first to double up Petersburg’s Ethan Taylor, who had drawn a walk earlier in the inning.
But after Van Meter struck out the last two Doddridge County batters of the first inning to keep the game scoreless, the Vikings scored six runs in the top of the second.
Following a leadoff single on a soft line drive between first and second base by Colin Mauzy, Mauzy advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Caden Arbaugh’s RBI single that got past the diving Doddridge County shortstop and rolled into left field.
Two batters later, with one out, Trace Rohrbaugh hit a bouncer to the Doddridge County pitcher that wasn’t properly fielded, enabling Rohrbaugh to reach first base. He later stole second.
After Van Meter drew a walk to load the bases, Kaleb Kuhn drew a bases-loaded walk, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead. A sac fly to deep left field in front of the fence by Peyton Tingler increased the Vikings’ lead to 3-0.
Ethan Taylor followed with a grounder that was fielded by the Doddridge County shortstop, but his throw pulled the first baseman off of the bag, enabling Taylor to reach first base and scoring Van Meter from third.
Elijah Kuykendall hit a 1-1 pitch up the middle for a two-run single that gave the Vikings a 6-0 lead.
“You play percentages, and in this game, that doesn’t always prove true,” Schafer said. “But, we were behind in the count and then you have to throw it down the middle, and it makes it a whole lot easier to hit it somewhere.”
The Vikings had runners on second and third in the top of the third, but Doddridge County first baseman Dawson Pumphrey caught a pop up in foul territory and then snagged a grounder to first to end the threat.
But with two outs in the top of the fourth — which included a Petersburg base runner getting caught stealing as Doddridge County catcher Aiden Eddy threw him out — the Vikings struck again.
After an RBI triple by Kuykendall, who hit a 2-2 pitch to the fence in right center field, the Vikings drew three consecutive walks, including a bases-loaded walk by Owen Reel, increased the Vikings’ lead to 8-0.
A two-run single by Rohrbaugh — who hit a 2-2 pitch to right center field — gave the Vikings a 10-0 lead.
Van Meter didn’t allow any hits until Caleb Sutton hit Van Meter’s 3-1 pitch in the bottom of the fourth to left center field for a single. That was followed by a pop up by Luke Rokisky that neither the Petersburg first baseman nor the second baseman caught as it fell in for a hit.
But since it didn’t travel far and neither runner knew if it was or wasn’t going to be caught, Sutton was thrown out advancing to second.
Racey hit a deep fly ball to right field that the Petersburg right fielder dove for and appeared to have in his glove, but dropped it, resulting in an error, and putting runners on first and third.
When a wild pitch got past the Petersburg catcher, it hit off of the backstop with enough momentum that Arbaugh, the Petersburg catcher, was able to field it and toss it to Van Meter at home plate, who tagged out a sliding Rokisky at home.
A sac fly by Taylor in the top of the fifth gave Petersburg the 11-0 advantage. Taylor was 2 for 2 with two RBIs and scored two runs.
Kuykendall was 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Kuhn was 2 for 3 with an RBI. Tingler was 1 for 3 with an RBI. Arbaugh was 1 for 2 with an RBI.