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Warriors blast two grand slams in win over Knights
Friday, April 19, 2013
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
AMESVILLE - Momentum can be a fickle thing. One minute it can be firmly on your side and the next the wind could be blowing in a completely different direction.
Fortunately for the West Branch baseball team, the wind was blowing out at Thomas P. Matea Memorial Field on Thursday afternoon.
The Warriors opened up leads of 10-0 and 14-4 over Moshannon Valley, which battled back to within a run heading into the seventh.
In the final stanza, West Branch powered up with a grand slam and a pair of 3-run homers - all of which came with two outs.
The Warriors' monster inning broke open a one-run contest and set the final at 27-13 in Amesville.
"It was ugly all around for us," said West Branch head coach Tyler Good. "I told the guys that we played two good (innings) to start and one good one to end. If we take those away, then we're in trouble.
"I give our kids great kudos for putting the game to an end as it was. We could have went into the bottom of the seventh, struggling with a one-run lead and them having all the momentum, but we came up with a couple big hits. I told the guys at the beginning of the day, ‘baserunners in high school baseball is huge.' "
A big reason for the Warriors' offensive explosion in the final stanza was the bat of Chad Speigle, who entered the frame 0-for-his-first-5.
Speigle rectified any issues he was having beforehand, as he belted a 3-run shot off Cody Marshall in his first appearance and topped it off with a grand slam against Sam Ohler to add an exclamation point to West Branch's win.
"He was beating himself up, but that's what good hitters do - they battle through," Good said. "He began 0-for-5, but I told him that he was going to finish 2-for-2 - it just happened to be two hits that gave him 7 RBIs. He's a good enough hitter, too, to make an adjustment."
West Branch's Conor Myers also belted a 3-run shot in the stanza to put away the pesky Black Knights, who had several narrow misses of their own.
Marshall nearly worked out of a jam in the seventh, as Myers was on third with one out. Myers broke for home on Robbie Pearce's groundball, but was gunned down at the plate by Luther Harlow.
Despite only having one on and two outs, West Branch went to work and ended the frame with eight of their 20 hits in addition to drawing five walks and being hit by a pitch.
"You can't go out and walk guys, and that's something we talk about every game," said Mo Valley head coach Justin Fye. "You can't get behind hitters and expect to do well. We walked the leadoff hitter that inning, and it ended up bringing their big bats to the plate with runners on. They did their job and drove the runs in.
"The final score was indicative of how the game went on. They took advantage of their opportunities, and we gave them a lot of runs."
Fye's squad rallied from early deficits and drew to within one with a 7-run fifth inning.
West Branch starter Walker Williams had some control issues in the frame, as he walked the first two batters of the inning before plunking Jim McHugh with the bases loaded two batters later.
Mo Valley's Eric Sherkel followed with a 2-run single, and Harlow had a sacrifice fly before Ohler re-entered the game after sitting out an inning.
Ohler was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts before giving way to Bryce Bloom in the fourth, but Fye re-entered his starting catcher and Ohler came up huge.
The Knight junior pounced on a Williams offering and sent it over the fence in left to make it a 14-13 game.
That was all the closer Mo Valley got, however, as Sherkel was stranded 90 feet away from the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
"We talked after the first couple innings and we said, ‘we can either give up and be out of here in a couple of innings, or we can fight back,' " Fye said. "We did a good job of coming back, and we were within striking distance there as we had a chance in the sixth to tie it up. ... We did a nice job of coming back, but we have to finish it off.
"We had all the momentum, and that's what these guys need to realize - you have to learn how to win. ... I don't know if they understand how big momentum is in anything, any sport. We did a good job and chipped away and made some plays in the field, but then one thing led to another. They had a guy at first with two outs in a one-run game ... there's not much more you can say after that."
Pearce, who was West Branch's third pitcher, induced Kent Stewart to ground out to Kody Trude at short to end the threat in the sixth. The Warrior junior earned the win after allowing one hit in 2 2/3 innings of relief, where he walked one and struck out five.
Harlow was hung with the loss, despite not allowing an earned run.
The Warriors posted eight runs in Harlow's only inning of work, but none of them was earned.
Leadoff Jonathan Sanker had a grand slam in his second at-bat of the opening frame to highlight a pivotal inning of the contest.
"I asked the guys since we were on the road - and we haven't been on the road in awhile - to score four in the first and they doubled that," said Good. "It was exactly what I wanted. We had the momentum, put those guys down a little bit and knocked their starting pitcher out right there.
"Luther is a great ballplayer and I'm glad we got him out in the first. (Marshall) did a great job of keeping our guys limited. That first inning, when I look back on it, might have been the key to the entire game."
West Branch (2-5) is back in action this afternoon when it hosts Harmony, while the Knights (1-5) entertain Glendale on Tuesday.
NOTES: The Black Knights finished the contest with just three hits to their credit. In addition to Sherkel's 2-run single and Ohler's homer, the only other player to record a hit was Caleb St. Louis, who singled to open the sixth. ... West Branch's Trey English led all players with four hits, including a double. Myers added two doubles in going 3-for-4. Warrior senior J.P. Hayles was 3-for-3 with four RBIs through the game's first two and a half innings. ... Marshall threw 131 pitches in 5 2/3 innings of relief. The Mo Valley southpaw held West Branch to three earned runs in his first four innings of work. ... Williams lasted 3 2/3 innings, as he struck out nine and walked six.

West Branch-27
Sanker cf 3424, Guenot ph 1000, McGonigal 3b 2000, Trude ss 1211, Speigle ss-3b 7327, English 1b 6341, McDowell c 5430, Wick c 0000, Martin lf 6322, N. Kerlin rf 1100, Myers rf 4233, Hayles 2b 3134, Zwick 2b 1100, Thomas dh-p 4100, Williams p 0000, Pearce p 1200. Totals: 45-27-20-22.
Moshannon Valley-13
Sherkel ss 3312, Stewart 3b-c 4200, Harlow p-1b-3b 2001, M. Krupa ph 1000, Ohler c-lf-p 3112, Bloom lf 0000, N. Krupa ph 1000, Marshall dh-p-rf 3100, Vanish rf 0000, Smeal ph 1000, Demko 1b-rf-1b 1200, Ohs cf 2200, St. Louis lf-3b 4111, McHugh 2b 3101. Totals: 28-13-3-7.
Score by Innings
West Branch  824 000 (13)-27 20 5
Mo Valley      040 270     0-13  3 7
Errors-English, McGonigal, Wick, Trude, Speigle; Sherkel 2, McHugh 2, St. Louis, Stewart, Marshall. LOB-West Branch 11, Mo Valley 7. 2B-Myers 2, English. HR-Speigle 2 (grand slam, 7th inning; 2 on, 7th), Sanker (grand slam, 1st), Myers (2 on, 7th); Ohler (1 on, 5th). SAC-McGonigal. SF-Harlow. SB-Myers; Sherkel 3, Stewart, Demko. HBP-Sanker (by Marshall), Zwick (by Ohler); Sherkel, Stewart (by Williams), McHugh (by Thomas). Balk-Williams. WP-Williams 3, Pearce 1; Marshall 4, Harlow 1, Ohler 1.
Pitching
West Branch: Williams-3 2/3 IP, 0 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 9 SO; Thomas-2/3 IP, 2 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; Pearce-2 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO.
Mo Valley: Harlow-1 IP, 3 H, 8 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO; Marshall-5 2/3 IP, 16 H, 14 R, 11 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO; Ohler-1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 SO.
WP-Pearce (1-0). LP-Harlow (0-2).


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