By Stephen Smoot
On Good Friday, Pendleton County, Keyser, and Petersburg held a tournament to honor some of the many legends who helped to develop high school and youth baseball over the decades. The opening game pitted Petersburg, ranked seventh in single A by West Virginia Metro News, and 10th ranked Pendleton County.
The 1 p.m. start time saw a slate gray sky, an occasional stiff breeze, and raw 50 degree temperatures. When temperatures drop below 60, it creates an effect on a baseball. They become denser and less elastic, giving the ball some extra pop. This puts more pressure on pitchers and defenders because, in many cases, the ball will jump off the bat faster and hit the glove harder.
Both teams hit the ball hard, but only one team was able to follow the classic hitting advice of the former Brooklyn Superbas and New York Highlander (now Yankees) star Wee Willie Keeler – “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
Petersburg opened their first barrage in the opening inning. The first hitter launched a home run, followed by a single to right, then a second home run to establish a 3-0 lead. Clayton Kisamore settled in and got three of the next four batters out to retire the side.
In Pendleton County’s first opportunity at the plate, Chase Owens earned a lead off walk on five pitches, but was picked off on a fielder’s choice.
Petersburg took a 3-0 lead into the top of the second. The leadoff batter grounded to short, but legged out the play. The next Viking batter drew a five strike walk with a steal on the second pitch. With two on and no outs, the subsequent batter bunted the ball too aggressively, giving Kisamore the opportunity to take out the lead runner advancing to third.
The next Viking batter fired a shot to the wall in left center, gaining two runs batted in on a stand up double. Petersburg gained two walks to load the bases with two outs, but Kisamore got the final batter in the inning out on a screaming line drive snagged by Cameron Beachler.
In the bottom of the second, Beachler drew a lead off walk. Brayden Beachler followed with a hard shot, but right at the shortstop. The throw beat the runner back to first for a five-three double play. The Wildcats tried to challenge with two outs. Dustin Vandevander hit a line drive base hit to center field, followed by a Jayden Roberson single to right field. Petersburg got the next batter, however, to strike out to retire the side.
Petersburg opened the top of the third with an infield single. Kisamore earned a strikeout with the next batter, but then dealt a walk. Cameron Beachler then came in to pitch with men on first and second. The first batter he pitched to fired a line drive that, in a frightening looking shot, hit the pitcher in the arm.
All runners were safe with the bases loaded. With one out, Cameron Beachler got a Viking to hit a slow roller toward first that the Petersburg player legged out to extend the lead to 6-0. Pendleton County retired Petersburg in four batters in the fourth. In the bottom of the inning, once again the Wildcats had an opportunity. Cameron Beachler hit a one out seeing eye single between the second baseman and the shortstop, but could not advance.
Petersburg picked up another run in the fifth after they loaded the bases with no outs. Brayden Beachler came in to pitch and got the batter to hit a slow ground ball that was fired home to get the out and prevent the run. The next batter hit a ground ball to the very busy Dillon Smith who prevented another run by tossing the ball to James Vincell covering home. The inning ended with a ground ball to short, but the Vikings added another run for a 7-0 score.
Petersburg scored another run in the top of the sixth. To lead off the Wildcat half of the inning, on a 2-0 pitch, Kisamore drove the ball to the wall for a stand up double. A Vincell sacrifice sent him to third, but they could not drive him home.
The Vikings picked up four more runs in the top of the final inning. In the bottom of the seventh, Roberson drew a walk. Caleb Armentrout followed that with a base hit, but the inning ended on a strikeout.
Petersburg took advantage of the conditions and opportunities and played mostly mistake free in the field. The Wildcats saw more hard luck, although they hit the ball well.
On April 3, Pendleton County went on the road to defeat Pocahontas County 12-1 in five innings. Vincell had three hits and four RBIs with a triple. Brayden Beachler and Kisamore also each had two hits. Landon Colaw took the win, giving up one run in four innings.
The next evening the Wildcats took on Tygarts Valley, Colaw, Vincell, Owens, and Clayton Kisamore each had two base hits.
After the tournament, West Virginia Metro News released their Week Three Power Rankings, placing Pendleton County in ninth place and Petersburg eighth.