GLEN DALE-Shane Wellman pitched a sparkling one-hitter while Aaron Fonner provided the game-winning fireworks at the end with his two-run walkoff home run as John Marshall knocked off Section One rival Wheeling Park 2-0 Tuesday night at Monarch Field.
Catcher Zach Winland led off the bottom of the seventh by ripping a shot into left-center field that saw the Patriots' Dylan Janeszko nearly make a dazzling catch before the ball fell off his glove for a double. Fonner worked the count to 1-1 against Park sophomore lefty Justice Jackson then jumped all over a pitch up in the strike zone and drove the ball well over the fence in left field to send the John Marshall fans home happy.
The victory was the fourth in a row after a 1-6 start by Coach Bob Montgomery's Monarchs. The Patriots, coming off a victory over sectional rival Brooke just 24 hours earlier, sustained a sixth defeat in nine outings.
Montgomery, back in uniform after missing the last three games with an illness, gave credit to the pitchers of both teams. ''Our guy pitched out of trouble early and was real good at the end. So was Justice. Nobody was overpowering and it was just good pitching on both sides. They were hitting spots and throwing strikes," Montgomery noted.
Wellman struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter. He also had to pitch around some loose fielding by his teammates as the Monarchs' infield was charged with three early errors.
However, both Wellman and the John Marshall defense were sharp as they could be during the last three innings. After Park's Cameron Amend reached on an error to start the top of the finish, Wellman settled down and retired the last nine batters he faced. He picked up four of his strikeouts during this stretch while also benefiting from a couple of sparkling plays in the field.
With the potential go-ahead run at third base and two out in the bottom of the fifth, second baseman Johnny Cochran went to his knees to field a tough hop off the bat of Kyler Fitzpatrick and made a strong throw for the out at first base. Wellman's mound opponent Jackson had an infield hit taken away by shortstop Jake Lucas.
The Patriots' only hit was a double drilled into the gap in left center by Nick Harrison leading off the bottom of the third. Harrison had to stay at second base when Amend's bouncer near the third base bag was bobbled by Josh McKown, who wisely held on to the ball instead of rushing a throw across the infield.
With two on and still nobody out, Wellman retired Janeszko on a pop fly to McKown and then struck out Ethan Jacobs. The inning ended when Fitzpatrick's ground ball toward Lucas resulted in a forceout at second base.
Patriots coach Mike McLeod felt he got everything he could have expected from Jackson on the mound. ''Our young sophomore really did a nice job. They got two big hits in the seventh inning but I'll take that kind of pitching every time."
Through the first five innings, Jackson needed just 55 pitches and, assisted by two double plays, stranded just one baserunner. He struck out three, walked three and was helped out by a Park defense that played errorless ball. Shortstop Andrew Kowalo's nice play and throw took away an infield hit from Ryan Gellner in the third inning. Gellner was victimized again in the sixth inning with one out when his liner headed toward left field was speared by Harrison.
At the time that proved to be a huge play as Lucas came up next and drilled a bomb to left field that just missed going out but wound up as a double. Kowalo then dove and knocked down Jeremiah Fromhart's bid for an RBI hit up the middle, which forced Lucas to stop at third. After McKown walked on four pitches loading the bases, Todd Schmidt worked the count to 3-2 before flying out to Janeszko in center.
''We're not going to win any ballgames where we only get one hit," McLeod said after the loss. "Their kid did a nice job of hitting spots with his pitches but we keep bailing guys out by swinging at curve balls. At this level you don't have to swing at curve balls.
''We went out early today and hit extra in the cage and we'll do it again" today, McLeod said. ''Maybe when we go to Magnolia our bats will wake up."