The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 2, 2014

McCullough’s ninth-inning RBI lifts Fairmont over Elkins: PHOTOS

PLEASANT VALLEY — Things hadn’t been going Keegun McCullough’s way as his Post 17 Fairmont ballclub hosted Elkins Tuesday night.

But that all changed in the ninth inning with the score deadlocked at seven runs apiece.

With one swing of the bat, McCullough turned an 0-for-3 night into an 8-7 walk-off victory for Fairmont.

“To get that hit right there, it feels great,” McCullough said. “I was struggling. I was literally just thinking, ‘Put the bat on the ball.’ The whole game was killing me, and leading up to that inning I was a nervous wreck. But (coach) Kurt (Cutter) kept me calm, and I got that hit.”

Prior to the ninth-inning drama, the intensity had been rising all game, including a situation in the top of the eighth inning when Elkins’ Daniel Crawford apparently made contact with Fairmont catcher Gage Hannah, causing the ball to come loose from Hannah’s glove and for Elkins to go up two runs.

But even with all of the drama, Fairmont managed to claw its way back from a deficit on several occasions and come out with a victory.

“It got intense, but it was a good baseball game both ways. All the boys played hard,” Fairmont coach Marty Morgan said of the drama. “A couple of times we gave them some, but we came back and hit the ball. We had some good two-out hits. It was a team effort.”

The biggest two-out hit Morgan was referring to came in the bottom half of the eighth inning.

Down, 7-5, James Bolander dug in at the dish with two out and two on and drove in both baserunners with a double to tie things up.

“We just knew we had to fight back. But we’re used to that,” Bolander noted. “We’ve been down two, three runs before. We just kept fighting. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

The top half of the ninth, though, would provide more drama as Bolander, who threw 3.0 innings for Fairmont while scattering just three hits and striking out four, gave up a leadoff double on the first pitch of the inning.

“As soon as that guy hit the ball, I was really nervous,” Bolander admitted.

But if he was nervous, he wasn’t showing it, striking out the next two batters before getting the final Elkins’ batter to fly out to shortstop Chris Petrucci.

If the game hadn’t been filled with enough twists and turns already, Fairmont’s Fletcher DeVaul reached third on an error to begin the bottom half of the last inning, leading Elkins to intentional walk Johnny Kesling and Travis Smith before McCullough would drive home the winning run.

“He drove it into the grass the last time and he kind of beats himself up every once in a while,” Morgan said of McCullough’s night. “It’s tough in baseball when you’re 1-for-3 or 1-for-4, but today, 1-for-4 was a good day.”

Adding to McCullough’s night, Bolander went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, Kesling went 1-for-4 with three RBIs, Smith went 1-for-4 with an RBI, Petrucci went 1-for-3, DeVaul went 1-for-4 and Bailey Mohr went 1-for-2.

For Elkins, Kevin McDermott went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the way.

Fairmont will be back in action Thursday as it hosts Preston at 7 p.m. at East Fairmont High School.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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