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Bats of Ritter, Grover lead Wellsville to win and perfect 4-0 start; Friendship-Scio softball falls, 6-4

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Tuesday Roundup: Lions overcome two deficits against WV’s Independence in all-out offensive avalanche to score 20-18 win; Fri/Scio softball opens with tough battle vs. NC’s North Lincoln in 6-4 loss

By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor, wellsvillesport.com

MYRTLE BEACH, SC — The school bus was all loaded up. The sights and sounds of the surrounding scenery have been taken in. The ride down south was officially over. The Wellsville Lions have landed in Myrtle Beach for action just after sunrise, Tuesday morning.

Thus far in their campaign, the Lions have faced a great deal of adversity in their first three games, having to claw their way back to victory in all of them. Their resilience and poise has allowed them passage into the win column all three times. It would be an understatement to say that the road ahead was not going to get any easier by any means.

But despite it, Wellsville was most certainly up for any challenge that presented itself. Especially the one that West Virginia’s Independence posed straight out of the gate.

With first pitch taking place shortly after nine in the morning, the marathon to the finish line across all seven innings of play commenced. Between both the Lions and the Patriots, an all-out offensive volley was conducted behind the combination of 38 runs — 17 of those coming in just the fifth inning alone.

In all, the downpour helped forecast 32 total hits at the plate through the entire war on the battlefield at Socastee High School.

Through every little bit of action that was offered, it would witness yet another deficit-inducing confrontation for the Lions to work their way back from not just once, but twice, in the midst of a treacherous and unrelenting avalanche of runs coming across the plate. It started off the hop with Independence firing on all cylinders, with a quintet of scores breaking the ice immediately.

Then, it transitioned into the bottom half where the Lions airmailed a response right back and then some, claiming their first lead to jumpstart a back-and-forth exchange across the first three innings of play. With the team in gray and orange continuing to hold steady, the fifth inning approached, as the Patriots unloaded another big barrage against the Lions to force them back behind the eight-ball once again.

As compared to the first inning, Wellsville found their way back. And as a direct result, they won the game.

Across the final three innings of play, the Lions assembled a shape-shifting haymaker to deliver to Independence in the form of 11 consecutive runs out of the game’s final 13 altogether. The flurry, including a seven-run connection in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game with the Patriots at 16 before breaking the deadlock once and for all in the bottom of the sixth in what was their last offensive tenure at the plate.

In short, the Lions would survive and advance towards a 4-0 start to the season with a 20-18 victory.

“Our bats are just on fire. It’s incredible to watch it come together,” said Lions coach Tom Delahunt. “They jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but our lineup is so difficult to pitch to, because you have to pitch to everybody. We keep coming at teams, and if it’s not one guy, it’s another that will step into the fold. Our middle of the order down all had three RBI today, and that’s something you don’t really see a whole lot of. I don’t know the last time we started 4-0 on the season, but we’ll take it. We’re continuing to work on the things we need to work on. That’s why we’re down here playing these games. We may not play a perfect game, but we have the resilience to come back from two big deficits, along with no errors on defense again. We’re doing things the right way.”

The first three innings of play was highlighted by the introductory at-bats of the game for both sides, with Independence striking on all fronts with a five-run stanza — four of those runs coming off a massive grand slam to break the ice in a big way. Despite the big smash, Wellsville (4-0) came right back and returned the favor with a six-run frame of their own to grab the lead off three solid hits from Aiden Cowburn, Alex Green and Cooper Brockway.

The runs continued in the second with three more between the foes, with Independence tying the game at six before Wellsville’s response was double of the Patriots, pinballing back into the driver’s seat again with an 8-6 lead.

After a scoreless third inning was traded, the Lions bolstered their lead with the first of four gigantic hits to lead the offense from Matt Ritter, driving in a run off a double — one of three he would have in all.

When it was all said and done, Ritter finished with a 4-for-5 outing behind three doubles, three RBI and two runs scored.

If the offensive eruption couldn’t get any louder, the fifth inning offered its biggest crescendo yet. In the top half, the Patriots took advantage of everything they were able to garner at the dish, including a second grand slam to break it wide open with a 16-9 advantage of the Lions.

In return, it would not render Wellsville stricken, as they reversed course on the Patriots and scored seven unanswered runs to place a 16-16 deadlock on the scoreboard.

It was the beginning of an unanswered strand of scores that allowed the Lions to build even more onto their foundation, eclipsing double figures when the bottom of the sixth arrived in full. They would cross into 20-run territory with their final four runs — two of them off a gargantuan triple delivered by Karson Grover, pairing the belt alongside some outstanding base-running to keep the offensive pistons firing.

With a four-run lead in their possession, they looked to shut the door completely in the seventh.

Aside from two runs by the opposition, they would do just that behind an exceptional display of defense, propelled by Cooper Brockway’s victory on the mound in relief, as the Lions senior wrapped up the win with two strikeouts and a walk.

Following Ritter on the attack for Wellsville was Aiden Cowburn, who also totaled four hits, scoring three times. Brockway had three hits, driving in three runs and scoring three more of his own, while Grover and Ty Vogel each had two hits and a combined six RBI.

Wellsville was canceled because of the storm on Wednesday. The Lions will take on Lewisville on Friday to complete the trip.

Independence 510 0 (10) 0 2 – 18 15 5

Wellsville 620 1 7 4 X – 20 17 0

IND – Reid Warden (K, 2BB), Levi Barnette (3) (2BB), Brayden Kiblinger (LP, 5) (2K, 3BB), Coalson (7) (K) and Straton.

WLSV – Gavin Haggerty (BB), Aiden Cowburn (1) (3K, 5BB), Brennen Geffers (4) (K, 2BB), Ty Vogel (4) (K, BB), Cooper Brockway (WP, 5) (2K, BB) and Alex Green.

SOFTBALL

North Lincoln (NC) 6, Friendship/Scio 4

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC — Not far from where the Lions of Wellsville and the Wolverines of Bolivar-Richburg baseball teams are parked for the week, Class D State Finalist Friendship/Scio made their season debut in North Myrtle Beach, pinned up against the North Lincoln Lady Knights who occupy residency in the neighboring state of North Carolina.

It was a first game fight right from the start for Friendship/Scio, as their dynamic superstar hurler Nevaeh Ross kept North Lincoln under control across the first three innings of play, as did the Lady Knights and their pitcher Brooklyn Mohr in the same exact swing.

But both shutout bids were snapped in the mid-section of the contest, with nine of the game’s 10 runs being posted in the fourth inning entirely. Friendship/Scio was able to break the ice right away with the advantage, but it was not long after until North Lincoln came across a momentum swing of their own, posting one more run to claim the ultimate lead for good while using their defense to hold the fort down in what was a 6-4 victory at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex.

“We had too many errors, but for our first outing against a team that is more than halfway through their season, we are seeing some good things,” Friendship/Scio coach Deb Warner said. “We need to work on some defensive situations, but the girls are still young and they continue to improve. We were able to do what we were able to do, but North Lincoln had a solid defense to go up against.”

Despite the defeat, Nevaeh Ross provided an exceptional start to her senior season from within the circle for Friendship/Scio (0-1), as she rattled off 11 strikeouts to go with one walk. In the first three innings of action, Ross handed out six of them, including a three-strikeout first inning in between a North Lincoln baserunner reaching off an error in the field.

Behind her momentum, Friendship/Scio was able to fuel their bats in a big way with a 4-0 lead, paced behind an RBI single from Grace Drumm before coming in as one of two runs off of Nora Thompson’s double in the eight-hole. Thompson was the team’s leading hitter, posting two of their four hits.

The game’s first advantage held by the team in white and gold was only for a brief moment, as North Lincoln came back with a monumental response of their own — a five-run bottom half of the fourth inning, aided by a two-run homer that cut their deficit right down the middle before using some clutch baserunning to propel ahead with a 5-4 lead.

North Lincoln would add one more run against Friendship/Scio in the bottom of the sixth to further cement their victory, pairing it with a quick tenure of seventh inning defense to put the bow on top.

Aside from Thompson’s two-hit game, Nevaeh Ross posted a single along the way to assist Friendship/Scio on offense.

Friendship/Scio will return to action this morning in a 10 a.m. first pitch, where they will face Ohio’s Carlisle.

Friendship/Scio 000 400 0 – 4 4 6

North Lincoln 000 510 X – 6 7 2

F/S – Nevaeh Ross (LP) (CG, 11K, BB) and Morghyn Ross.

NL – Brooklyn Mohr (WP) (CG, 8K, BB) and Gabby Parker.

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