By Stephen Smoot
While Wednesday night’s sectional game served as one of many frustrations for Pendleton County, Friday’s trip to Moorefield gave the team a chance to work them out.
The evening started sunny and warm as an early summer day, but clouds moved in early to give an overcast sky. As the game commenced, the public address announcer shared with the crowd that Joe Vincell, father of James on the Pendleton County squad, was one of 10 individuals inducted into the Moorefield sports hall of fame.
Early on, both sides enjoyed excellent pitching and solid defensive play. The Wildcats went down in order in the first. Clayton Kisamore helped Moorefield to return the favor in the Wildcat half of the inning.
The two teams scattered hits and walks over the first four innings. For example, in the top of the fourth, Brayden Beachler got on base with a flare to shallow left field with one out, but good pitching kept him stranded. In the bottom of the inning, a Moorefield batter got on with two outs, but Kisamore got him to ground out to second base.
The deluge from the darkening clouds held off, but the one from the Pendleton County bats opened up in the top of the fifth. First, Dillon Smith drew a leadoff walk to bring up the top of the order with no outs. The Yellow Jackets brought in a new pitcher who allowed Dustin Vandevander the opportunity to leg out a softly hit infield single to drive in the first run. Kisamore followed by earning a walk.
With two on and no outs, Chase Owens belted a hit to centerfield that he stretched into a double as two runs came in to give his team a 3-0 lead. Vincell followed that by driving a double to deep right, scoring another run. Jayden Roberson came up next and launched his own double into right center field, knocking in the fifth run of the inning. Three batters later, the Moorefield pitcher gave up a run while the bases were loaded by balking. Pendleton County closed the inning with a 6-0 lead.
Moorefield could not respond in the bottom of the fifth as Kisamore set the batters down in order again. Meanwhile, the Wildcats remained unsatisfied with their scoring total Kisamore led off with an infield single, knocked in two batters later with a sacrifice fly from Vincell. Going into the bottom of the sixth, Pendleton County led 7-0.
The Yellow Jackets tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the sixth. They got a one out base hit, then moved the baserunner to second. With two outs, Moorefield manufactured a single to score their lone run, leaving them runners at first and second with two outs. Kisamore, however, shut down the momentum with a strikeout.
The Wildcats tried to add even more insurance in the top of the final inning. Cashton Kisamore belted a pitch into deep left field, sliding into third with a triple. Smith followed with a walk, but the Yellow Jackets closed down the side without allowing further damage.
Moorefield had their last chance in the bottom of the seventh. Clayton Kisamore took out the leadoff batter with a strikeout, but the next batter legged out a softly hit ball. Then he earned the second out with another strikeout. Moorefield’s next batter earned a walk as the team clung to life.
With runners at first and second, the batter went down 0-2, but laid off the next two balls. Then he grounded softly to second to end the game.
On Saturday, however, East Hardy ended the Wildcats’ postseason dreams. They scattered three hits over five innings to win 12 to 1.
In other sectional action, prior to the Moorefield game, the Wildcats scored their first run against Petersburg this year, but went down in the game 11-1.
Pendleton County worked hard this year to get a less experienced team enough repetitions to compete well in the post season. Rain and other obstacles kept them from getting in the same number of games as their rivals.
The sectionals did give the seniors a chance to gain revenge on a Tucker County team that excelled in football and basketball this year. Also, as Coach Sam Yokum said before the season even started, “It’s always fun to beat Moorefield.”