Golden Bears win sectional title for third year in a row
WEIRTON – It came in 3s Thursday for the Oak Glen baseball team.
Scoring three runs in the second and fifth innings, the Golden Bears won their third West Virginia Class AA Region 1, Section 1 tournament championship with a 6-5 victory over rival Weir High at Bowman Field.
“This means a lot, not just for us, but for our school,” said Oak Glen senior Tyler Steed, the winning pitcher. “Our school hasn’t see this in, I don’t know how long. This is a really good win for the school.”
The Golden Bears won their first sectional crown in forever two years ago on the same field.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Steed, who finished with two hits and two RBIs. “We’ve worked hard for this. I know that everyone has battled for what we have received.
“It’s been a fun journey.
“We knew we had to come here today and get our work done. We needed to come in here and get the win. We didn’t want to go to Game 3.
“This isn’t our goal. Our goal coming into this season is to win a state championship. That’s what we’re striving for.”
The Golden Bears were in the driver’s seat after Wednesday’s 11-1 win.
“Winning (three in a row) is a boost of confidence for our program,” said first-year Oak Glen coach Mat Deveaney. “To me, it’s the tip of the iceburg. We’re happy with what we have, but we’re not satisfied. We need to focus on what’s ahead of us.
“We need to make sure we refocus, take this nice long break we have in front of us that’s a week-and-a-half, come back and get a good start in the regional semis. I don’t know if we’ve ever won a regional game.”
Weir took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second as Josh Russell walked with one out and eventually came around to score on an error.
Oak Glen answered right away with its first three-spot.
Trey Smith, Alex Wedgwood and Steed singled to begin the second inning. Steed’s base knock scored Smith. Alec Swiger’s sacrifice fly brought in Wedgwood. Derek Haddox ripped a double to plate Steed.
Weir scored a run in the third on two walks, an error and two singles.
The Red Riders tied it up in the fourth on two singles (Zack Knuutila, Viakley) a hit batter and walk.
Weir took the lead with a pair in the fifth.
Russell began the inning with a double and scored on Kody Knight’s double to left. Kamari Washington reached on an error and Viakley’s groundout scored Knight.
But, as has been another M.O. for the Red Riders, the lead didn’t last long.
After two lazy fly balls to center for outs in the bottom of the fifth, Smith and Wedgwood walked. Steed singled up the middle to score Smith and Alec Swiger took the first pitch to deep left center for a double to score Wedgwood and Steed for the game-winner.
“We didn’t do what it took to win today,” said Red Riders mentor Bob Rosnick. “We had the right guys in the right place on offense and defense and we just didn’t come through. We had plenty of opportunities and we just didn’t do it.
“We just couldn’t do what it took to win games on a consistent basis. I’m not sure we weren’t the better team a lot of times when we didn’t win. We just couldn’t do it.
“Maybe you’re not the better team if you can’t do what it takes to win. I just have a hard time believing that.”
Zach Poter took over for Steed in the sixth and, thanks to a baserunning miscue, only faced four batter.
Bub Haddox took the bump in the seventh and left the tying runner stranded at second.
“We pitched well today,” said Deveaney. “I thought Tyler threw well. We made the plays when we had to and had two nice two-out hits there in the fifth.”
The Red Riders played errorless ball after committing four of them Wednesday.
“We’re trying to improve our program and this year was an improvement over last year,” said Rosnick. “It’s a small step forward. I still think we underachieved.
“We need to work in the offseason, work in summer leagues, work during the winter to develop our players and get better.”
Oak Glen 6, Weir 5
Weir 011 120 0 – 5 6 0
Oak Glen 030 030 x – 6 8 3
WEIR: Viakley (LP, 4K, 5BB) and Curtis; S; Swartzmiller 2S; Russell S; Knight D, RBI; Knuutila S; Viakley S, RBI.
OAK GLEN: Steed (WP, 3K, 4BB), Porter (6, 0K, 1BB), Haddox (7, 0K, 1BB) and Smith; McLaughlin S; Smith S, D; Wedgwood S; Steed 2S, 2RBI; Swiger D, 3RBI; D. Haddox D, RBI.