Maynard fends off Moundsville
GLEN DALE — The Ohio Valley Baseball League race suddenly got a little tighter Wednesday night thanks to the right arm of Mackenzie Koehler and the bat of Eric Banal.
Koehler needed just 90 pitches in hurling a three-hitter as surging Maynard (9-4) made quick work of first-place Moundsville, 3-1, in a game that took just 1-hour, 35-minutes to play on Bob Montgomery Field at John Marshall High School. Banal had two hits and a pair of runs batted in.
“My legs felt a lot better than my last start. I think the heat had something to do with that against Barton the other night,” Koehler said of his win over the Braves last week. “Moundsville is a very good ball team and it really means something to beat them twice now.
“Their lineup is stacked with hitters so you can’t give in to them,” Koehler added.
With the loss, the Expos (10-3) have now lost three of their last six after a 7-0 start.
“With the exception of two games recently, we’ve been struggling to string hits together,” Moundsville player/manager Matt Carnahan explained of the slump his team has been in. “It seems like every game we will have that one inning where we get some big hits, but we can’t seem to tie them all together.
“Mackenzie did a really good job tonight. We couldn’t barrel him up and we chased quite a few pitches tonight,”
Carnahan was spot-on as the Expos’ three hits came in different innings, with leadoff hitter John Santimarino singling in the first and third frames, while Carnahan blasted his second homer of the season to deep left-center leading off the fourth.
“He’s a great hitter, maybe the best in this league,” Koehler said of Carnahan. “That’s why we walked him in the sixth.”
The strategy worked to a tee as Carnahan was intentionally walked with a runner on first and one out in the sixth. The next batter grounded into a 3-6-1 double play to snuff out the attempted rally.
“That was huge,” Koehler recalled. “You have to play smart sometimes even if it means eating your ego. Matt is so strong that he can hit a bad pitch out of the park.”
Koehler threw 61 strikes while fanning half-a-dozen, walking two and hitting a batter. He hit the strike zone 16 of 25 times with his first pitch to a batter.
Maynard took a 1-0 lead in the second when Banal legged out an infield single as Jared Kernan scored from third. Kernan had doubled down the left field line with two outs and went to third on a wild pitch.
Carnahan tied the game in the fourth but the Indians scored what proved to be the game-winner in the fifth. Klay Cottis singled to left leading off and went to second when the ball was bobbled in the outfield. A comebacker to the mound moved Cottis to third and Jayden Starks bounced a 1-0 pitch through the right side of the infield as Cottis crossed the plate.
Banal supplied his second big hit of the contest in the sixth as Maynard added an insurance marker. Hunter Westlake was hit-by-a-pitch leading off and two outs later, Banal doubled over the head of Moundsville’s rightfielder as Westlake chugged home, making it 3-1.
Following Carnahan’s roundtripper, Koehler retired 12 of the final 14 Expos he faced. Jake Stoner was plunked with one out in the sixth before Carnahan was put on without a pitch. Hunter Cottrell’s bouncer to Kernan at first was relayed to shortstop Matthew Busby to erase Stoner. Busby’s throw to Koehler covering first just beat the runner.
Maynard hosts Barton Friday night on Firemen’s Field inside the Community Park, while Moundsville welcomes Shadyside.
Weirton 1, Barton 0
AT WEIRTON, Jacob Rosnick was a thorn in Braves sides as he pitched a complete game and knocked in the only run of the contest with a one-out bloop single to right.
Tyler Blomquist also went the distance on the hill for Barton (4-5).
The Bobcats improved to 6-5.