River Falls to Central in OVAC Title Tilt
There was a lot of hype surrounding Saturday afternoon’s Tom Bechtel Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 2A championship game. And why not? The two teams had a combined record of 48-1 entering the contest.
The contest certainly lived up to its billing, and more.
Kaitlyn Ferns’ bad-hop infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed pinch runner Bailey Nixon to score the winning run as top-seeded Wheeling Central (25-0) remained unbeaten with a thrilling, 2-1, decision over No. 2 River (24-2) before an overflow crowd at Lisa’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.
“What a game!” Wheeling Central coach Rick Magruder said. “We knew coming in they (River) were a good team. You don’t win 24 games by being bad. They’ve got a great pitcher and their defense is unbelievable. You can’t say enough about them or our girls. It was two teams they kept battling. Neither one wanted to lose and in a game like this, it’s a shame that someone had to lose.”
Marissa Garlitz reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs and Nixon was inserted as a runner for Garlitz. Jai’Ehir Jackson lined a single to right as Nixon went to third. After Jackson stole second uncontested, Ferns ripped a shot off the glove of River first baseman Bailey Caldwell.
The ball deflected to second baseman Riley Lollathin, but the umpire, after a brief hesitation and consultation with a fellow umpire, ruled Ferns beat the throw from Lollathin to Caldwell, thus ending the game.
“It just goes to show that when you put the ball in play anything can happen,” Magruder noted. “That’s what we stress to the girls all the time. Put the ball in play. It worked for us tonight.”
The game was scoreless through five-and-a-half innings as River’s Rosey Romick and Wheeling Central’s Riley Bennington were on their games. The Maroon Knights finally dented their side of the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth. Allie Cook’s sacrifice fly with one out chased home Bailey Rehm from third. Rehm had reached on an error, stole second and went to third when Hannah Mozingo was erased at the plate on a fielder’s choice.
“This was a tough one,” veteran River coach Dave Wright said. “A real tough one, but we played a really good team, and we have a really good team. I thought both teams played really well.”
Bennington finished with a dozen strikeouts and only one walk. She allowed six hits. Romick had four punchouts and no base-on-balls. She gave up seven safeties.
Madi Taylor and Romick each had two singles for the Pilots. Ferns added a triple to her single, while Garlitz also tripled.
Pilots Blank Red Knights, 7-0
The No. 2-seeded River Pilots scored five of their seven runs in the first two innings after blanking No. 4 seed Toronto, 7-0, on April 25, in the OVAC?semifinals on Lisa’s Field at the J.B. Chambers I-470 Complex.
The victory marked a milestone in the coaching career of head coach Dave Wright and assistant Tim Tisher. It was the duo’s 200th win together.
Romick fanned four and walked two, while giving up three hits to gain a victory. Taylor had a trio of singles and a run batted in to lead the Pilots’ 12-hit attack, while Faith Ingram doubled and had a sacrifice. Rose singled and doubled, while plating a game-high three runs. Lollathin and Romick each singled twice, while Heater singled for all the Pilot hits.
Romick Wins Her 20th In 5-1 Win Over Devils
Rosie Romick picked up her 20th win, striking-out three, and scattering two hits, while helping herself out at the plate with a pair of singles and a triple to lead River to its 23rd win of the season, beating St. Marys.
Taylor produced a single and a double, plated a run, while the red-hot Riley Lollathin tripled and Bailey Caldwell singled twice.
Staff writer Bruce Crawford contributed to this report.