Poca rallies past Wayne, 6-5
POCA - In a daring choice of baseball strategy, Poca third-base coach J.R. Collins opted for a suicide squeeze with the bases loaded, none out and the Dots down by two runs.
The gamble ended harmlessly with a foul bunt attempt, but it reflected Collins' urgency to shake the team out of its recent doldrums.
"We were hoping it would be a little momentum boost,'' said Poca coach Gene Estel. "That run didn't mean much, but hopefully it would have gotten us jacked up and gotten us going.''
Although the suicide squeeze failed to generate any life, some clutch hits later in the inning did the job nicely, helping Poca to a six-run fifth inning and a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Wayne to end a three-game losing streak on Monday night. A crowd of about 100 attended.
Strangely enough, the three-game skid followed an 8-1 victory on March 27 over Chapmanville, the defending Class AA champion, and included an 11-1 loss at Point Pleasant and an 8-0 pummeling at Riverside.
And when No. 3 Wayne (6-4) took advantage of two errors to score four unearned runs in the third inning for a 4-0 lead, it looked as if Poca's troubles were continuing.
But in their six-run fifth, the Dots' Clayton Cook delivered a two-run single, David Taylor brought home a run with an infield out, Evan McClanahan tied the game with a sharp single to right and Josh Myers, the No. 9 hitter, bounced a two-run single up the middle to give the Dots a 6-4 lead.
Earlier in the inning, Myers walked and Noah Frampton singled, and both runners advanced on an error. After Cook's two-run single, Cam Cottrill and Jake Payne walked to load the bases, setting the stage for some timely hitting.
"Hopefully, this gets us back on pace a little bit and gets us realizing that we're capable of playing good ball, although we didn't play great tonight,'' said Estel. "Good pitching kept us in it. We had timely hitting finally. We hadn't been hitting the ball. We got shut out Saturday, scored one run the day before. We're just not hitting.''
The Dots (6-5) rapped out nine hits, committed five errors and stranded 10 runners to continue their problems of leaving too many runners on base. Through their first 10 games, they averaged eight runners left on.
"We'd been telling them that we're a good ballclub,'' said Estel, "but we've been playing to the level of our competition.''
Payne pitched the first five innings, allowing six hits, four (unearned) runs and three walks. Frampton pitched the final two, allowing a hit and no walks.
Reach Mike Whiteford at email@example.com.