MASON, W.Va. — What goes around, comes around.
The Wahama baseball team — which was ousted from 2018 postseason in an extra-innings game at Williamstown — took its revenge in the Class A Region IV, Section 1 final on Thursday at Claflin Stadium, as the top-seeded White Falcons defeated the No. 2 seed Yellow Jackets by a 4-3 count in eight innings.
Wahama (24-6) — which fell to the Maroon and Gold by an 11-1 tally just 24 hours earlier — broke Thursday’s scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning, as Tanner Smith singled home David Hendrick.
Williamstown (22-10) took a 3-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning, however, combining three hits and two walks in the frame. The guests didn’t advance beyond second base for the remainder of the contest.
The hosts stranded a runner on third base in the fourth frame, but got a run back in the fifth, as Jonathan Frye scored on a two-out infield single from Ethyn Barnitz.
Wahama tied the game at three in the home half of the sixth inning, as Ethan VanMatre scored on a Brayden Davenport sac-fly.
After leaving a runner on second base in the bottom of the seventh, the White Falcons began the home half of the eighth with Antonio Serevicz drawing a walk and Tyler Bumgarner getting hit by a pitch. After the first out of the inning, Cooper Peters grounded a ball up the middle. The first and only error of the game was made on the grounder, allowing Serevicz to score the game-winning run from second.
Following the sectional title victory, second-year White Falcons head coach Billy Zuspan talked about the resiliency his club has shown all-season, and the motivation that came from they way the 2018 campaign ended.
“We’ve had games this year where we’ve had to hold on for dear life with a one-run lead, last Thursday being one of them, and we’ve had games where we’ve had to come from behind. This team has so much heart and determination to continue to play baseball,” Zuspan said. “It’s been a long time, a whole year, since we were one strike away and it all slipped away in the bottom of the 10th. It was a tough heart-break, and it’s been a motivation. We’ve kept that in the back of our mind, thinking we were that close and we don’t want to let it slip away again. Tonight it looked like there were times that it might, but we never quit.”
Barnitz was the winning pitcher of record in 2.2 shut out innings of hitless relief for Wahama, striking out one batter and walking two. Serevicz tossed the first 5.1 frames for the victors, striking out nine batters and giving up three earned runs on five hits, four walks and two hit batters.
Coach Zuspan commended both of his pitchers for keeping the White Falcons in the game on the mound, while also making key offensive contributions.
“Antonio Serevicz is one of our senior leaders,” Zuspan said. “I felt good with him on the mound tonight, he pitched a great game, kept us in the ball game. Our bats weren’t always there, we had some opportunities, but we could never get the big hits we needed. But, he kept us in the ball game, and then right there at the end, he said ‘let me run.’ I said ‘you’re the senior, you’ve got it,’ and to make that good heads-up play to get in there on that bobbled ball was just absolutely great.
“We follow these seniors, they’re our rock, we rally behind them, but you know, we had a freshman come in there at the end and he showed a lot of character and a lot of poise on the mound to keep us in the game. Ethyn also had a big hit to bring us within one.”
Ryan Brown took the loss in relief for the guests, allowing an unearned run on a walk and a hit batter without recording an out. John Barkley pitched the first seven frames for Williamstown, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out six. Chase Barkley recorded one out, via strikeout, on the hill for the guests.
Frye led the White Falcon offense, going 4-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Smith was 2-for-4 with an RBI, Hendrick singled once and scored once, while Barnitz picked up a single and an RBI. Jacob Fisher contributed a single to the winning cause, Davenport added an RBI, while Serevicz and VanMatre each scored once.
Cullen Cutright and Brady Ankrom both singled once and scored once for Williamstown, while Austyn Smith had a single and two RBIs. Brown and Ethan Tawney had a single apiece, while Chase Barkley scored once in the setback.
The guests left nine runners on base, two more than Wahama.
This marks the fourth meeting between these teams this year, with the Red and White earning a 3-1 edge, including a 19-3 win in Wood County on May 1 and a 3-2 triumph in Mason County on May 9.
The White Falcons will be back at Claflin Stadium — where they hold a 15-2 record this spring — on Monday, as they host Huntington St. Joseph in the first game of a best-of-three series for the Class A Region IV championship. This marks Wahama’s first sectional title since winning its eighth straight en route to the 2016 Class A State Championship.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.