Tomcats top White Falcons for TVC-Hocking share

By Paul Boggs -

Wahama pitcher Philip Hoffman delivers to a Trimble batter during Wednesday’s Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division baseball game at Glouster Memorial Park.

Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

GLOUSTER, Ohio —You can’t blame the Wahama White Falcons for being greedy.

However, on Wednesday anyway, the host Trimble Tomcats perhaps proved that sometimes two aces are better than one.

Victimized by the Tomcats’ 1-2 senior punch of Andrew Losey and Dante Brammer, both on the mound and at the plate, the White Falcons fell 2-1 in the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division baseball finale in Glouster Memorial Park.

Wahama scored once on two hits and a sacrifice bunt in the game’s initial at-bat, but Trimble tallied single points in the second and fifth innings — on two hits in each — to capture the win and thus forge a three-way tie for the TVC-Hocking championship.

Wahama had already clinched at least a share of the league entering Wednesday’s makeup matchup, as the White Falcons won the outright title two years ago — before sharing the league last year with Trimble at 14-2.

As a result of the makeup outcome, the White Falcons, Tomcats and Waterford wound up at 13-3 in the TVC-Hocking for the three-way split.

“It’s kind of a bummer, because after a loss like this you don’t really feel like you’ve won a championship. Especially when we had a two-game lead at one time,” said Wahama coach Tom Cullen. “But we’ll still take at least a part of this championship and just keep plugging.”

Speaking of split, all three split with each other on the season series, as Wahama fell to 18-9 with the loss, while Trimble — the Southeast Ohio District Division IV runner-up — ended its season at 19-5.

A win would have given the White Falcons the outright crown, and with a 1-0 lead and ace pitcher Philip Hoffman on the mound, those championship odds improved.

But the edge was short-lived, as Hoffman’s leadoff walk to Trimble’s Max Hooper resulted in the tying run in the second.

Then, and although the Tomcats only had five hits off Hoffman, Losey and Brammer — back-to-back in fact — had arguably the biggest two of the season in the fifth.

With one out, Losey lined an absolute shot off the glove of Wahama third baseman Ryan Thomas, as the ball rolled into the left-field foul territory for a double.

On the next at-bat, Brammer belted a single to center, scoring Losey for the 2-1 lead.

“I was confident in getting them (Brammer and Losey) up there then,” said Trimble coach Phil Faires. “They’ve carried us all year. They are two good senior leaders and they are the reason why we are here (sharing league title).”

Cullen said Hoffman, who struck out 18 Tomcats in Wahama’s 6-4 win in the two teams’ first meeting in April, hung a curveball on Brammer’s at-bat.

“Philip hung a slow curveball up there and (Dante) Brammer rips it for the hit that did the deal. Philip had the count at 1-2, and could have even wasted a pitch if he wanted to. Maybe he was trying to do that and just got it (pitch) too close,” said the coach. “That’s the way she goes sometimes. I thought Philip (Hoffman) pitched well, but he wasn’t as sharp as he could be or he has been. But Trimble is a very good team. I like playing good competition, but I like being on the winning side.”

Hoffman had eight strikeouts in facing the Tomcats three times through, but only retired the side 1-2-3 in the fourth — and saw the minimum three in the sixth.

He also walked five, but Hooper’s leadoff walk in the second stanza came back to haunt Wahama when all was said and done.

Brandon Layton’s single to center moved Hooper to second, as Kamron Curry’s two-out single to center crossed Hooper.

Curry clubbed a liner up the middle just beyond the outstretched reach of second baseman Dalton Kearns.

Hooper had a sixth-inning leadoff single for the Tomcats’ only other hit.

Wahama had seven hits off the starter Losey and winning reliever Brammer, including a double by Ricky Kearns to lead off the game, as Kearns advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt before Hoffman helped himself with an RBI-single to center.

However, the White Falcons stranded six runners — one apiece in the first four frames, before critically leaving two aboard in the sixth.

Sandwiched around 1-2-3 fifth and seventh innings, Brammer hit Tyler Grimm with a pitch with two outs, followed by a Jared Oliver infield hit and a passed ball.

With White Falcons now at second and third, Brammer — who pitched the final three cantos — struck out Colton Arrington to end the inning.

Losey’s line featured the first four innings, facing four White Falcons in each of his final three frames.

He allowed four hits and no walks while striking out two, and stranded Hoffman at second following his two-out double in the third and Arrington after a two-out single in the fourth.

With two outs in the second, Dalton Kearns crushed a two-out double to deep left field — as the ball actually hit the bottom of the fence and just missed a home run.

Tyler Bumgarner then gave Wahama runners on the corners with an infield single.

But Bumgarner got caught between first and second in what appeared to be a designed delayed steal, as Losey charged at him and threw the ball to shortstop Cody Jones — who tagged Bumgarner before Kearns could score.

That play seemed to shift the momentum toward the Tomcats.

“They tried a delayed steal and their kid took off a little early, and we have a senior on the mound and a senior in the infield there making the play,” said Faires. “And we went over that. A team pulled that on us in the scrimmage, so we’ve worked on it since. I’m glad Losey remembered what to do.”

Unfortunately for the White Falcons, it was an offensive outing — and overall game — to forget.

“We didn’t get the key hits, didn’t have any back-to-back or bunched together. That’s been the story to the second half of our season. Not being able to bunch things together. Then we had some baserunning mistakes. The last out in the second inning, he (Bumgarner) wasn’t supposed to be out there (between first and second),” said Cullen. “It’s just frustrating.”

Wahama must quickly put Wednesday’s disappointment behind it, as the White Falcons — the defending West Virginia Class A state champion — hosts Charleston Catholic in the Class A Region 4 semifinals on Monday.

But first, Wahama plays at Point Pleasant today in an added regular-season tilt.

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

Wahama pitcher Philip Hoffman delivers to a Trimble batter during Wednesday’s Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division baseball game at Glouster Memorial Park. pitcher Philip Hoffman delivers to a Trimble batter during Wednesday’s Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division baseball game at Glouster Memorial Park. Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

By Paul Boggs