PDT Sports Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Change can either be really good or really bad in terms of karma, especially in a sport filled with superstitions and routines such as baseball.
Wheelersburg made a few lineup changes before the start of Thursday’s Division III Regional Semifinal baseball game at VA Memorial Stadium. The moves worked as the Pirates created positive matchups and eliminated Piketon 3-0 to advance to today’s regional final.
“Sometimes just slotting them in a new position in the order somehow will change the karma a little bit,” Wheelersburg coach Michael Estep said. “It was a combination of matchups and just trying to juggle the lineup a little bit.”
Estep made lineup changes as Wade Martin was slotted in the leadoff slot while Ben Arnold hit for Clay Massie. Estep might have to make more changes to today’s lineup when they take on St. Clairsville in the regional final as catcher Austin Hall turned his ankle running to first base in the first inning and was hobbled throughout most of the day.
“I told (Hall) after that we weren’t going to make any excuses,” Estep said. “He gutted it out and I’m really proud of the effort he shown back there.”
The Red Devils defeated Adena 4-0 in the second semifinal of the game. First pitch from the VA is slated for 12:30 p.m.
In a scoreless game, the Pirates started the fourth with a walk drawn by Alex Shears. He appeared to be hung out to dry after a pickoff move by Piketon starter Zach Farmer put him in a rundown.
Shears outsmarted the Redstreak infielders and advanced to second with a stolen base. Garrett Carmichael made them pay with a double that plated Shears and gave Wheelersburg a 1-0 lead.
Dylan Miller knocked Carmichael in later in the inning to double the advantage. Miller added the final insurance run in the sixth when his hit drove in Shears.
“Dylan worked his butt off this week, he worked his rear end off,” Estep said. “As a matter of fact, we had to get him out of the cages yesterday (because) we thought he was swinging too much.”
It was more than enough for Pirates starter Derek Moore to work with. At one point, the junior retired 14 batters in a row and 17 out of 18 before Brice Bennett’s single with one out in the seventh ended the streak.
“I thought he was in command of the game from the start,” Estep said of Moore. “I thought we let them get a few base runners that first inning but those were pretty good pitches.”
Moore finished with 11 strikeouts against no walks. Now the focus will be on either Martin or Austin Boyer to duplicate Moore’s effort on the hill.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Piketon 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — o 3 1
Wheelersburg 0 0 0 2 0 1 x — 3 4 2
Piketon — Ferguson 1-3, Bennett 1-3, Bowman 1-2.
Wheelersburg — Shears 0-1 (2 BB, SB, 2 R), Carmichael 1-3 (2B, RBI, R), Hood 0-1 (2 BB), Miller 2-2 (BB, 2 RBI), Moore 1-3.
W — Moore (12-0)
L — Farmer (10-4)
Records — Piketon 22-9; Wheelersburg 27-2.