POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The flood gates finally opened in the fifth … and the Big Blacks rode the wave from there on out.
The Point Pleasant baseball team overcame an early 2-0 deficit by scoring eight consecutive runs in the fifth and sixth frames, then ultimately cruised to an 8-3 victory over visiting Poca on Tuesday night in a Class AA Region IV, Section 1 winner’s bracket semifinal matchup in Mason County.
The second-seeded Big Blacks (20-7) secured their first 20-win campaign since the 2014 season, but the hosts also needed a little bit of warm-up time to reach that milestone after producing only two baserunners through their first three innings at the plate.
The third-seeded Dots (13-10), on the other hand, had already built a two-run cushion in that same span after scoring a run apiece in the second and third frames.
Parker Samples delivered a two-out double in the second that allowed Tanner Miller to score for a 1-0 edge, then Toby Payne scored from third on a double steal that led to a 2-0 cushion through three complete.
Then, in the fourth, things started to take a turn for both teams. Poca managed only two baserunners over the next three innings, while the hosts left the bases loaded at the end of their half of the fourth.
PPHS, however, had its big breakthrough in the bottom half of the fifth as Tanner Mitchell led the frame off with a walk, then advanced to second on a ground out. Miles Williams, Carter Smith and Brody Jeffers followed by being hit with consecutive pitches, allowing Mitchell to come home for a 2-1 deficit.
Wyatt Wilson reached safely on a two-out error that allowed Williams to come home for a tie game, then Hunter Blain double to left while bringing home Smith, Jeffers and Wilson for a 5-2 cushion.
Cason Payne and Riley Oliver both scored on wild pitches in the bottom of the sixth, with Josh Wamsley also crossing home plate after a ground out by Smith.
Poca had the bases loaded and one away in the top half of the seventh when Ethan Payne lifted a 335-foot sacrifice fly to left that allowed Evan McKneely to come home for a five-run contest.
The Dots grounded out in their very next at-bat, allowing Point Pleasant to complete the come-from-behind triumph.
The decision allowed PPHS to advance to the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday night as the Red and Black will travel to top-seeded Winfield for 6 p.m. affair.
Point Pleasant also defeated the Dots by a 5-4 count back on April 16, also in Mason County.
The Big Blacks outhit the guests by a 6-3 overall margin and also committed five of the six errors in the contest. PHS stranded five runners on base, while the hosts left four on the bags.
Kyelar Morrow was the winning pitcher of record after allowing three unearned runs, three hits and three walks while striking out four. Ethan Payne took the loss after surrendering five runs (one earned), five hits and one walk over five frames while fanning three.
Blain paced Point Pleasant with two hits and a game-high three RBIs, followed by Smith, Jeffers, Morrow and Wamsley with a safety apiece.
Miller, Samples and Toby Payne had a hit each for Poca.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.