By Stephen Smoot
One of the keys for Pendleton County’s baseball success this year lies in having strong depth in pitching alongside a defense that can make plays consistently. The Wildcats used three pitchers to frustrate the Pocahontas County bats and got the opportunity to provide most of the team with all important game reps.
Clayton Kisamore took the mound to start the contest. His first inning set the tone for the game as he retired the side in order with two slow ground balls and a strikeout. Pendleton County, however, also went in order in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the third in a scoreless game, Wildcats Coach Sam Yokum pulled Kisamore in favor of Cameron Beachler. Kisamore had dominated through three innings, getting the first pitch over for a strike on five of seven batters while allowing only a single base runner. With early season rainouts preventing players from getting game experience, the reliability of the defense allowed the coach to give more of his pitchers some work.
The breaks did not go Beachler’s way as he entered to pitch in the top of the third. Coach Yokum called on Dustin Vandevander to step on the mound with runners on first and second and no outs. He allowed a ground ball to third, but the defense was able to hold the runner to prevent the score.
Now facing a bases loaded situation with no outs, Vandevander dug in. The batter worked a full count and seemed to be finding his timing, but Vandevander got him to ground weakly back to the mound. He alertly fielded the ball, tossed it home for one out. James Vincell from his catching position fired the ball to first base for a double play. Vandevander then struck out the next batter to preserve the scoreless tie.
Pendleton County’s bats responded after the Warrior threat passed. In the bottom of the third with one out, Jayden Roberson hit the ball to short and was safe on a bobbled ball. Dillon Smith earned a walk on four straight pitches. Chase Owens then worked a 3-2 count and hit a single, but Pocahontas County successfully held the runner at third to prevent the RBI.
With bases loaded and one out, Kisamore rocketed a shot to left center field for a stand up double. Three runs came in, but the Wildcats continued to attack. Landon Colaw hit a ground ball to third that scored a run, but he got to first base safely. Beachler joined him on base with a ball hit squarely up the middle.
Brayden Beachler came to the plate with bases loaded and a single out. He hit a ground ball toward second. The Warriors once again could not come up with the play. A run scored, pushing the lead to 5-0.
Cashton Kisamore struck out on five pitches, but Roberson followed that with a two out single into right field that gave him two RBIs and the team a 7-0 score. Smith then drew his second walk of the inning with Roberson stealing second during his at bat. Owens then singled to right field, driving in two more runs. The inning ended on a Clayton Kisamore fly ball to center.
In the top of the fourth, Pocahontas County tried to muster a rally. They hit a one out single to right field, followed by a balk called when Vandevander accidentally dropped the ball on the mound. The runner on second stole third as Vandevander rung up a strikeout. He then gave up a walk, and that runner subsequently stole second. The next batter also walked, loading the bases, but Vandevander shut down the threat with a four pitch strikeout.
The bottom of the fourth saw Vincell opening the inning by reaching first safely on a ground ball up the middle. Colaw advanced him to second on a sacrifice hit and run play. Cameron Beachler once again came in clutch at the plate, hitting a single to left to score Vincell and extending the lead to 10-0.
Cashton Kisamore singled into centerfield, giving Vandevander runners at first and second with two outs. He earned a five pitch walk to load the bases. Smith once again drew a walk, gaining an RBI to give his team an 11-0 advantage. A strikeout ended the bottom of the fourth.
Vandevander took the mound in the top of the fifth. Although the first batter made it to first, the Wildcat pitcher dealt out three straight strikeouts to nail down the team’s win.
Pendleton County raced past Bath County in the first week of the season, scoring 10 in the first. Head Coach Sam Yokum shared that “James Vincell had a huge day with three hits, two of them doubles, and five RBIs.”
The Wildcats also took down Tucker County 14-3 last week. The Saturday doubleheader against Highland fell to the weekend storms, but the Wildcats traveled to Pocahontas County on Monday and to Tygarts Valley on Tuesday. They will compete tomorrow against Keyser and Petersburg starting at noon.