PDT Sports Writer
COLUMBUS — The state championship game is not the time to have an off day defensively.
Wheelersburg didn’t care.
Despite an unheard of five errors, the Pirates found a way to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh — capped off when Camron Parsley scored the winning run on a passed ball — for a 5-4 win over Bloom-Carroll Saturday at Huntington Park for their second-straight Division III State Championship. They are the first school since Minster last season in Division IV to repeat as state champions.
“Sometimes we don’t have five (errors) in a week,” Wheelersburg coach Michael Estep said. “People that sat up there today and watched it that are accustomed to watching us play, they know that’s not our identity. Our identity is not beating ourselves, throwing strikes, not walking people and finding a way to get timely hits.”
The Pirates, who had committed three errors this posteason coming into the contest, took the early 2-o lead in the first thanks to an RBI groundout by Parsley and an RBI single from Dylan Miller.
In the top of the second, the Bulldogs did something Lima Central Catholic was unable to do to Wade Martin in last year’s state championship: Score a run. Roger Danison’s double to score Scott Baker was the first run given up by Wheelersburg pitching in either a state semifinal or championship game since Cincinnati Madeira scored three runs in the top of the seventh of the 2011 state semifinal.
Bloom-Carroll came calling again in the third, this time with a inning that resulted in three runs and three errors, two by Garrett Carmichael and one by Derek Arthur, to swing momentum away from the defending champions to a 4-2 score. Bulldogs coach Brian Thacker knew his team had to come with quality at-bats to rattle Martin.
“Our thought was that he’s able to challenge guys with fastballs,” Thacker said. “He obviously throws pretty hard, but we’ve seen that. We were able to get on him because we just started sitting on fastballs.”
Martin did not show anger to his shortstop after the inning.
“I told him he’s got to keep his head up and make the next one,” Martin said. “That’s what we needed out of him.”
The Pirates climbed back in the fourth when Sam Robinson’s two-base hit plated Derek Moore. But an error from Parsley in the top of the fifth, an inning-ending 5-3 double play in the bottom of the same inning and a major threat in the top of the sixth appeared to be the last hopes to a title defense.
Another body blow in this prize fight to Wheelersburg came in the seventh. Martin was replaced by Moore on the hill after allowing Smith to start the inning with a single.
Moore’s first batter, Jarrett Peters, grounded to Martin at third and resulted in the final error of the game. But as Martin had come in relief of Moore in Thursday’s 2-0 semifinal win over Youngstown Ursuline, Moore repaid the favor by retiring the next three batters and set up the Pirates’ last gasp.
“It was rough because you know he’s going to go out there, he’s a bulldog and is going to throw strikes,” Moore said.
At that point, Estep and his ball club understood the severity of the situation.
“All of a sudden, we came in there in the bottom of the seventh and you get a bunch of seniors running up to the plate at that point that are going to have their last high school at-bat,” Estep said. “They were just willing to refuse to lose.”
Ben Arnold started the rally with a one-out infield single, he advanced to second on a Parsley fielder’s choice in which he beat out the throw to second for the force out.
“My heart was pounding but I was set on getting safe on those bases,” Arnold said.
After Arnold was replaced by Austin May, Miller took the fourth pitch to left for a single that scored May and evened the game. With Parsley at third and Miller at second, Moore was intentionally walked by Corey Stanley, who came in relief to start the inning, to load the bases. Clay Massie struck out to bring up Zach Brown.
“It’s nothing you’ve ever (felt) before,” Brown said. “You’re pounding, you want to be the guy to step into that situation and get that winning run in.”
Up 0-2 in the count, Stanley threw a ball that bounced off the mitt of Peters behind the plate. Parsley delayed and darted for gold.
“I just took off, it was unbelievable,” Parsley said.
The win went to Moore, who finishes his career with a record of 36-0 and claims the longest winning streak in OHSAA history, supplanting the previous mark of 32-straight wins by West Salem Northwestern’s Dean Chance from 1958-1959. He is one of six seniors — including Arnold, Arthur, Brown, Massie and Michael Diddle — as the most-decorated senior baseball class in school history with four SOC II, district and regional crowns apiece along with two state championships.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Bloom-Carroll 013 000 0 —4 9 0
Wheelersburg 200 100 2 — 5 9 5
Bloom-Carroll —Fetherolf 1-3 (SAC), Smith 2-4 (RBI, R), Peters 0-4 (R), Newton 0-3 (SAC), Sc. Baker 2-4 (RBI, R), Danison 2-3 (2B, RBI), Lambert 1-2 (SAC), Jude 2-3 (2B, R).
Wheelersburg — Carmichael 2-4 (R), Martin 1-4 (R), Arnold 1-3 (SAC), Parsley 0-2 (BB, HBP, RBI, R), Miller 2-4 (2 RBI), Moore 1-3 (IBB, R), Massie 1-3 (SAC), Brown 0-2 (BB), Robinson 1-2 (2B, HBP, RBI), May 0-0 (R).
W — Moore (14-0) 1 IP 0 R, 0 H, 1 K, 0 BB
L — Stanley (8-2) .2 IP, 2 R (2 ER), 2 H, 1 K, 1 BB
Records — Bloom-Carroll 26-6; Wheelersburg 29-4.