By Carl Holcomb
The heat was rising and the palmetto bugs were zipping all around the Sam Fleishman Complex, but West Virginia-Moorefield All-Stars remained calm and collected even in the midst of a rally by South Carolina-Irmo with plenty of confidence to create an 11-4 victory behind a complete game pitching performance with defensive stops in the first round of the Southeastern Regional Junior League Baseball Tournament last Friday in Ft. Myers, Fla.
“Isaac [Van Meter] did a nice job tonight. We had a bad second inning, probably the only time up to this point we’ve had an inning that bad. We made a couple fielding mistakes and drove his pitch count up a little from where we were hoping,” West Virginia manager Kevin Reed stated during the Little League Junior Baseball Southeastern Regional Tournament interview session.
“He was able to get a couple quick innings to where he was able to pitch the whole seven innings and maintain everything to hold in the 90-count threshold which saves us on pitching going forward. We had some timely hits, but we didn’t hit as exceptionally well as we normally have been. It’s always nice to travel 18 hours and win your first game.”
Crunching through the numbers, West Virginia pitcher Isaac Van Meter tossed 95 pitches with one strikeout the day after traveling 16 hours.
Not sure if pepperoni rolls would give instant success, but West Virginia munched on two runs in the first inning and another pair in the second frame for a 4-0 advantage.
Kennan Mongold was issued a leadoff walk, then Branson See hit into a fielder’s choice as West Virginia had one aboard for Van Meter whose shallow hit into right field bounced off the diving glove of outfielder Wells.
[private] Hayden Baldwin hit into a fielder’s choice out at third base for the second out, then the rally started.
West Virginia’s Mason Ours smashed an RBI double into left field plating Van Meter, then Baldwin scored on a passed ball for the 2-0 edge.
A free pass was given to Karson Reed, but South Carolina pitcher Davis retired the side with a strikeout.
Van Meter stepped up on the mound with his teammates surrounding him and everyone had a huge smile, then shortstop Kennan Mongold collected a grounder by Friend for the first out and center fielder Garrett Strickler caught the next two fly balls.
Strickler singled in the leadoff spot just past the shortstop in the second inning prior to being picked off, then Davis walked Jaydon See and Mongold reached on an error.
Branson See layered the ball into right field for a single loading the bases, then Van Meter struck out
Baldwin hit a hard grounder to third base causing an error allowing one run to score, then Ours was given a free pass to send another run home for a 4-0 West Virginia advantage.
In the bottom of the second inning, South Carolina scored four runs to equalize the contest.
Van Meter pitched a full-count walk to South Carolina’s Martin and jammed Davis for a center field fly out before Vonahn hit into a fielder’s choice.
Warkmund reached on an error at third base to load the bases, then Spigner hit a short grounder which spelled trouble for catcher Baldwin as a run squeezed home.
Garrick and Friend both singled to left field sending Vonahn and Warkmund home on back-to-back plays, then Wells made an RBI groundout sending Spigner across the plate tying the game at 4-all.
Van Meter issued a walk to Demasi, then got out of the inning forcing a pop-out to Mongold.
Jayden Moore smacked a leadoff single to right field in the top of the third inning as West Virginia looked to regain the lead.
Friend came in to pitch for South Carolina, then Moore advanced on a passed ball and Strickler zipped a line drive to center field for an RBI double which put West Virginia back on top.
After a fly out, Mongold hit a blooper into center field for an RBI single to go up 6-4.
Mongold put the wheels on stealing around to third base before being sent home on an RBI double center field fence by Van Meter.
Baldwin hit a sharp grounder slipping into left field and Van Meter rushed home beating the throw to extend the West Virginia lead to 8-4.
South Carolina’s Davis reached base on an error by Mongoldm, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice hit from Bonahn to Strickler.
Ours fielded a grounder by Schodom for the second out and Branson See caught the last out of the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, Strickler and Coleman Mongold reached base on errors after two strikeouts from Friend, but were left stranded due to a groundout.
Both Carolina got two runners on base in the bottom of the fourth inning on a single to right field by Friend and an Error allowed Wells to get aboard with one out.
A pop-out and groundout to Kennan Mongold retired the side preventing a score.
West Virginia went back to work in the fifth inning padding the lead as Van Meter was given a walk and scored on an RBI double by Baldwin into right field.
Ours singled to shortstop Demasi putting runners on the corners, then Demasi came in to pitch and struck out Jacob Frederick.
Coleman Mongold connected for a single up the middle plating Baldwin for a 10-4 advantage.
Demasi closed the side with a strikeout to Gavin Wolfe.
South Carolina failed to get on base on groundouts to Van Meter and Branson See, then Schodom struck out.
West Virginia went down in order in the sixth inning on a strikeout and two groundouts.
South Carolina couldn’t muster a hit again with two groundouts and a pop-out.
West Virginia added one more run in the seventh inning as Van Meter walked and Baldwin hit a single to center field before Ours grounded out to the pitcher allowing Van Meter to cross home plate for an 11-4 lead.
Wolfe caught the initial out in center field, then Demasi grounded out to Mongold.
Martin singled to center before being stranded on a game-ending groundout fielded by Mongold.
West Virginia advanced to face South Fort Myers, Florida which was the host team on Saturday afternoon.