Big Blacks hold off Wahama for 1st win


By Paul Boggs - pboggs@civitasmedia.com



Point Pleasant shortstop Carter Smith (16) forces out Wahama’s Dalton Kearns (20) at second base during Thursday night’s non-league baseball game at Point Pleasant High School. Looking on for Point Pleasant is Austin Richardson.


Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

POINT PLEASANT, W. Va. — Looks like the Big Blacks still have Wahama’s number.

Truth be told, it’s been a slow start to the season for young Point Pleasant —having lost its opening three games.

The Big Blacks are adjusting to the graduation of 11 seniors with several inexperienced varsity players, and were outscored 36-3 in their opening three tilts with a pair of decisive shutouts.

However, Point Pleasant plays some of its best baseball against its Mason County archrival — and did so once again on the home field on a chilly Thursday night.

Point Pleasant pushed out to a 4-0 lead through the opening three innings, then fended off the White Falcons for a 5-4 victory.

While the Big Blacks are now 1-3, Wahama —the two-time defending Class A state champion — is 1-1.

The White Falcons mercy-ruled Parkersburg Catholic 12-2 on Tuesday in their season opener.

When Wahama wasn’t going down in order against Big Blacks’ ace Abe Stearns, they did at least threaten, stranding runners on the corners in the second inning — before scoring two runs apiece in the fourth and sixth frames.

But both times, the senior Stearns — who threw 110 pitches and tossed the opening six innings for the win — escaped the jam by stranding a pair of White Falcon runners.

In the fourth, with Wahama trailing 4-2, Stearns stranded runners at second and third after inducing a 6-3 groundout.

In the sixth, with Point Pleasant leading 5-4, Stearns stranded Falcons on the corners, thanks to an inning-ending strikeout.

Carter Smith secured the save in the seventh — inducing a pair of 6-3 groundouts, sandwiched around a walk to Dalton Kearns and a flyout to right by Philip Hoffman.

Kearns advanced into scoring position for the game-tying run, but was left there.

Indeed, in part with Stearns on the mound, Thursday night was the Big Blacks’ best showing —by far.

“Our guys played well tonight. The first win of the year is always hardest to get,” said PPHS acting head coach Eric Roberts. “I thought Abe Stearns threw the ball well for six innings and Carter Smith came in and shut it down. All in all, we played pretty well tonight. Hopefully, this one gets the fire started for us and we’ll see about next week.”

Roberts was serving in the head coaching capacity for the second consecutive contest, as Andrew Blain was serving the second of a three-game suspension — following his ejection on Monday night at Nitro.

Stearns actually allowed only two Wahama hits —a leadoff single by Kearns in the fourth and a Tyler Bumgarner single in the sixth.

He retired the White Falcons 1-2-3 in the first, third and fifth frames, and only allowed one earned run with five walks and seven strikeouts.

Wahama took advantage of three Point Pleasant errors for its four runs.

“We’ve come down here before and we just laid down and gave up, but tonight we battled back and scratched and got it to 5-4. Had we done a few other things right, we might have gotten a couple more,” said Wahama coach Tom Cullen. “We had some chances to win it there, and that’s all you can ask for. We did some good things there at the end. We put the ball in the play, and Abe (Stearns) is a good pitcher. It’s been a little fast for us here early, but we’ll try and get caught up to that. I also thought both Nyles (Riggs) and Dalton (Kearns) pitched well.”

The Big Blacks, conversely, cranked out 10 hits — including Stearns and Alec Smith, who both went 2-for-3.

Roberts said Stearns’ mastery made the offensive effort appear easier.

“It felt good to get those first four runs. We put some hits together. After we put some hits together, things started flowing for us. Not just in the batter’s box, but also in the field,” said Roberts. “We kept the lead, and Abe (Stearns) threw 110 pitches, so I’m sure he will feel it tomorrow.”

Austin Richardson led off the Big Blacks’ initial at-bat by being hit by a pitch, then Tyler Mitchell managed a two-out single for the 1-0 lead.

In the second, Miles Williams led off with a walk, then crossed on an Alec Smith triple, as Smith scored on a Sam Pinkerton RBI-groundout.

The Big Blacks then made it 4-0 in the third — when Josh Wamsley drew a leadoff walk, Stearns singled, and Brody Jeffers drove in Wamsley with a single.

Pinkerton and Carter Smith singled in the fourth, but Point Pleasant didn’t score again until the fifth for its 5-2 edge.

Stearns singled to lead off, and eventually scored on a passed ball.

Williams with a double and Alec Smith with a single in the fifth, and Richardson with a single in the sixth, amounted the remaining Big Black basehits.

Nyles Riggs was the starting and losing pitcher for Wahama, working the first four innings and allowing five earned runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Kearns came in for the fifth and sixth stanzas, and surrendered three hits with a walk and a pair of Ks.

The White Falcons combined Kearns’ leadoff single, a Hoffman fielder’s choice, a pair of walks and an error for its two points in the fourth.

They then combined a leadoff walk to Hoffman, a Jonathan Frye sacrifice fly, Bumgarner’s basehit, and finally a pair of errors for the two sixth-inning runs.

Wahama will return to the road, and will open Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play, on Monday at Waterford.

The White Falcons are the three-time defending division champions, including sharing the title last season with Waterford and Trimble.

Point Pleasant, meanwhile, returns home on Tuesday night — when it welcomes another archrival in Gallia Academy.

First pitch for that affair is set for 6 p.m.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

Point Pleasant shortstop Carter Smith (16) forces out Wahama’s Dalton Kearns (20) at second base during Thursday night’s non-league baseball game at Point Pleasant High School. Looking on for Point Pleasant is Austin Richardson.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2017/03/web1_3.25-PP-Smith.jpgPoint Pleasant shortstop Carter Smith (16) forces out Wahama’s Dalton Kearns (20) at second base during Thursday night’s non-league baseball game at Point Pleasant High School. Looking on for Point Pleasant is Austin Richardson. Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

By Paul Boggs

pboggs@civitasmedia.com