Barton tops Moundsville, advances to OVBL finals
Braves face Maynard for title in Gm. 1 on Sunday
CRESCENT — Managers always want their teams peaking when the postseason rolls around. Billy Timko is no different.
The veteran Barton manager watched his fourth-seeded Braves (11-7) eliminate No. 1 Moundsville 6-4 Thursday night in Game Two of an Ohio Valley Baseball League playoff semifinal on Henning Field inside Pramesa Park.
“We’re playing really well right now,” Timko assessed. “We had guys on vacation or missing for numerous reasons most of the regular season, but once the playoffs started and everyone came back, we’ve been on fire.”
With the victory, Barton has a chance top defend its 2020 title as it advances to the championship series against long-time Belmont County rival and No. 2 seed Maynard, which took down third-seeded Weirton, 6-1, for a 2-0 sweep in the other semifinal series on Thursday night.
The best-of-5 finals get under way Sunday at 1 p.m. on Firemen’s Field inside the Community Park in Maynard. Game Two will be Monday in Crescent, with Game Three set for Wednesday back in Maynard. If necessary, Game 4 would be in Crescent and Game 5 in Maynard.
The Expos (13-7) didn’t go down quietly as they trailed 6-3 entering their final at-bat against current Fairmont State right-hander Ben Taylor. Bryan Courts led off with a single and was safe at second on an error as Jake Stoner reached on a fielder’s choice. Moundsville player/manager Matt Carnahan, who hit four home runs this season, popped out and Sonny Peluchette’s rocket to the right side was snagged by a leaping Matt Fouty at second. Hunter Cottrell lined a double to left-center that scored Courts, but Stoner got hung up between third and home before being tagged out in a quick rundown to end the game.
“It was a nail-biter there for a minute,” Timko said of the seventh inning. “They had two runners on and Carnahan up. One swing of the bat and it’s a tie game, but Ben bore down and got him to pop up for the first out and we got out of it.”
Taylor, who admittedly didn’t have his best stuff, struck out six, walked two, hit one and scattered nine hits.
“I didn’t have all my stuff. My changeup wasn’t really there, so I didn’t throw many of them,” Taylor noted. “My curveball was hit-or-miss and my fastball was probably my best pitch of the game. Luckily, I had Isaac (Rine) behind the plate. He stole me a couple of strikes here and there and I’ve got great fielders behind me.”
The effort was Taylor’s last of this summer in the OVBL as he heads for Strasburg, Va., to compete in the Valley Baseball League for former Barton standout George Laase.
“Ben pitched a great game today,” Timko said. “He’s our 1B to Tyler (Blomquist) who is our 1A.”
Stoner’s sacrifice fly drove in John Santimarino as the Expos took a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat. Barton evened things when Bailey McGrath’s popup was caught in shallow right-center, but Rine, who reached on an error leading off, tagged and easily raced home.
Two key fielding miscues by Moundsville in the second allowed the Braves to take a 3-1 lead they would never relinquish. One run scored when a flyball was dropped in left and the other on a sacrifice fly by Rine.
Stoner’s RBI single with one out in the third made it 3-2 as Santimarino scored.
Kaden Blomquist sparked a three-run fifth as Barton grabbed a 6-2 advantage. Blomquist’s drive to deep center plated Jacob Probst and a hustling McGrath who just beat the throw home. Anthony Zorne followed with a single to left-center that knocked in Blomquist.
Moundsville made it 6-3 in the sixth when Brandon Corley singled home Peluchette with two outs.
“We started out really hot this year, but then we stopped hitting the ball about halfway through the season and we never fully got them going again,” Carnahan said. “We could never string anything together, just like today when we left eight runners on base.”
Moundsville starter, and loser, Matt Brooks deserved a better fate.
“We put Matt in a hole very early with a couple of errors. We didn’t help him out at all, especially when we got up 1-0 and then immediately going out and having errors. That kind of took the air our of the team, but we tried to come back.”
Probst singled and doubled for two of Barton’s five hits, with four of them coming in the three-run fifth.
Maynard 6, Weirton 1
AT WEIRTON, the Indians (14-6) swept past the Bobcats (9-8) as Hunter Westlake doubled twice to drive in four runs. It was hit solo home run leading off the bottom of the third in the series opener that proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win.
Matt Busby charted three singles and scored twice, while B.A. Holloway had two singles and an RBI.
Chris McIntyre went the distance on the mound, striking out 10 and allowing just three hits.
“Chris pitched super,” Maynard manager David Vicker said. “Hunter hit the ball well and Matt had a big game for us.”
Maynard won the regular-season series with Barton, 3-2.