POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — A win-win situation for the Big Blacks.
The Point Pleasant baseball team remained unbeaten and also handed defending Class A state champion Wahama its first loss in over nine months Monday night following a 5-3 victory in a non-conference matchup of Mason County programs.
The Big Blacks (3-0) never trailed in the contest as the hosts stormed out to a 3-0 cushion after two innings … and ultimately never looked back.
The visiting White Falcons (0-1) rallied with a run in the top half of the fourth to close to within two runs, but PPHS responded with two scores in its half of the frame for a comfortable 5-1 advantage.
WHS tried to make things interesting late by plating a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, but the White Falcons ultimately ran out of outs after getting the tying run to the plate.
The Big Blacks — who benefited from Wahama errors — have yet to trail in any of their three victories thus far this season.
And those early advantages, as third-year PPHS coach Andrew Blain noted afterwards, are really providing a boost to how well the team is playing in the first week of the season.
“I don’t feel like we are firing on all cylinders yet, but we are playing well enough to get some wins,” Blain said. “I feel like our defense has been very good so far and our pitching has done enough to keep us in games. We’ve also been fortunate to score early, which helps set the tone for everything else that we are doing well.
“We’ve had a good start so far, and a win like this — over a pretty good team like Wahama — definitely gives us some momentum moving forward. We just have to keep doing what we have been, but I am happy with how the kids have come out and played early on.”
Conversely, WHS baseball coach Tom Cullen noted that his troops kind of resembled a team making its season debut. He was quick to praise Point Pleasant’s efforts and also feels that this loss will make his squad better in the long run.
“Point Pleasant has a pretty good team over there, especially with all those seniors. They played a solid game and didn’t make anything easy for us. That was the difference in the outcome,” Cullen said. “I thought that it showed that they had a few games under their belts and we’ve only had the one scrimmage, but we have to pick it up if we are going to get where we want to get.
“The main thing for us is to take this and learn from it. We need to not make the same mistakes and continue to get better every day.”
Point Pleasant committed two errors in the triumph, but only one led to any damage. The other, however, came in the top of the first — and ultimately proved to be a turning point in the game.
Jared Nutter delivered a one-out single, then advanced to third on a throwing error that allowed Philip Hoffman to reach safely. Wahama tried a double steal on a 2-2 pitch to cleanup hitter Mason Hicks, but the hosts ended up turning a double play on both Nutter and Hoffman — ending the early threat.
PPHS followed with a leadoff single from Chris Lush, who advanced to third on a throwing error that allowed Cody Sockwell to reach safely. James Littlepage delivered a one-out sacrifice fly to left that plated Lush, allowing Point Pleasant to claim a 1-0 edge after one full frame.
After using another double play to get out of the second inning unscathed, the Big Blacks again got a leadoff single from Tristan Austin to start the bottom half of the second. Austin later advanced to third on a one-out throwing error that allowed Justice Chapman to reach safely.
Lush followed with a RBI triple that plated both Austin and Chapman, making it a 3-0 contest through two complete.
Hoffman led the top of the fourth off with a double, then advanced to third on a single by Hicks. Tyler Grimm followed by grounding into an RBI-producing 5-4-3 double play as Hoffman scored for a 3-1 affair.
The hosts, however, responded right back as Abe Stearns led the bottom of the fourth off by reaching on an error, then a passed ball and a fielder’s choice put Trey Tucker — a courtesy runner for Stearns — at third base with two away.
Lush delivered a double that plated Tucker for a 4-1 contest, then Lush later scored on an RBI single by Sockwell — giving the Big Blacks a 5-1 lead through four complete innings.
The score remained that way until the top of the seventh as Dalton Kearns started a two-out rally with a double, then later advanced to third on an error that allowed Colton Arrington to reach safely.
Ricky Kearns then provided a two-RBI double down the left field line, plating Dalton Kearns and Arrington for a 5-3 contest. Nutter grounded out to third in the next at-bat, wrapping up the two-run outcome.
The White Falcons outhit the hosts by a slim 8-7 overall margin and left five runners on base, compared to the seven left on the bags by PPHS.
Stearns was the winning pitcher of record after allowing one earned run, five hits and one walk over five innings of work while striking out five. Sockwell and Littlepage also threw an inning of relief apiece.
Hicks took the loss after surrendering five runs (one earned) and six hits over four frames while fanning four. Hoffman worked the final two innings for the guests.
Lush led Point Pleasant with three hits, two runs scored and two RBIs, followed by Littlepage with two safeties and an RBI. Sockwell and Austin also had a hit each, with Sockwell also driving in a run.
Hoffman and Arrington paced Wahama with two hits apiece, while Nutter, Hicks, Ricky Kearns and Dalton Kearns also added a safety each. Ricky Kearns drove in two RBIs for the guests and Grimm also knocked in a run in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.