UNITY — A three-run top of the seventh inning proved to be just enough of a cushion to lift the Wellsville Tigers over the East Palestine Bulldogs 7-6 on Tuesday afternoon in the opening baseball game of the season for both teams.
With two outs, Wellsville’s Tyler Landess hit a single into shallow right field that brought home Jaxon Brewer as the seventh Tigers’ run in the game (and the third of the inning).
“We won it,” Landess said of his thoughts after hitting the single. “That’s it. It was like, ‘Yeah, we got this in the bag. Our closer is coming in. This is ours.”
The Tigers closer was senior Gavin Kountz, but the last three outs proved to be quite the challenge.
With the Bulldogs down to their last three outs, leadoff batter Patrick Bender worked a walk and quickly stole second base. Cale Moraski, the second hitter of the inning, roped a single that scored Bender. After working his way around the base path, Moraski scored on a passed ball — bringing the Bulldogs one run away from tying the game.
Alex Cannon flied out to shallow right field, which was tracked down by Tigers second baseman Justin Temple, and Phoenix Marvin grounded a ball that rolled on the foul line and was picked up by first baseman Kolby Ramsey in fair territory for the second out of the inning.
Finally, with a runner on second base, Owen Elliott connected on a fastball and roped it into straight-away center field — right where Jaxon Brewer was waiting — to end the game.
“We made it a little closer in the end than what I would have liked,” Wellsville coach Justin Gerren said. “I don’t think we played our best. I thought we were up and down. We had some opportunities early on to put some more runs on the board — left a couple of guys in scoring positions — so, not our best performance. But I am proud of our guys for hanging in there.”
After the game ended, not playing your best baseball was a feeling shared by both coaches.
“I thought we played terribly,” East Palestine coach Bill Sattler said after the game. “You know, it was the first game. I don’t know if they were nervous, or I don’t know if we’re not that good, you know, I don’t know. We didn’t do much of anything.”
As for the starting pitchers, Wellsville’s Tyler Landess earned his first win on the season. He threw six innings, allowed four runs on five hits, struck out eight Bulldogs and allowed one walk.
WELLSVILLE: 0-3-1-0-0-0-3 — 7
E. PALESTINE: 2-0-0-0-2-0-2 — 6