The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

May 21, 2014

East edges North, 3-2, to advance to sectional final: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — East Fairmont baseball coach Joe Price walked off the field at Mary Lou Retton Park Tuesday evening when — suddenly — he stopped and pointed to a 25-pound rock sitting at the edge of the Bees’ dugout.

“You got this, right,” he said to his starting pitcher James Bolander.

Price had presented the rock to the Bees after they overcame a 6-3 deficit to beat Liberty 10-6 in the third game of the season. While it wasn’t their prettiest win, Price called the gutsy effort a “rock solid performance.” (The pun very much intended).

“He brought it into the team and said, ‘Seniors, take care of it,’" said Bolander. “We’ve kind of been battling. Whoever had the best performance out of the seniors (takes it).”

Tuesday it was only appropriate for Bolander to be the one to lug home the rock, or as the team calls it, “Alan.”

After coughing up two runs in the opening frame of the elimination game, the senior settled down and carried his team through six shutout innings, striking out four, walking three and scattering seven hits.

The result was a 3-2 Bees win over North Marion in the sectional playoffs, one that opens the book to another chapter in the East-West rivalry when the Bees square off with Fairmont Senior in the sectional title game at 6 p.m. today.

Bolander showed resiliency to bounce back after the rough first inning, especially after he was roughed up for seven first-inning runs the last time he faced North Marion.

But ironically, the most important of the right-hander’s pitches was the one he didn’t throw.

In the top of the seventh, North Marion was threatening with Travis Smith on third base and one out. Bolander lifted his leg as if he would deliver a pitch, but then stepped toward third base.

With a squeeze play on, Smith sprinted down the line and was easily picked off for the second out.

“James called that,” said Price. “He saw the guy leaning and he stepped off. He ran at the guy like he’s been taught. End result: The guy’s out.”

To come within 90 feet of tying the game was a difficult way for the Huskies to end their season. But after winning just three games last season, North Marion coach Vic Seccuro saw positives in his 10-15 team.

“It was a pleasure coaching them this year,” he said. “I felt they made quite a turn-around this year. They were in every ball game but one.”

And they were in this one, too, until the very end.

East Fairmont got all three of its runs in the bottom of the first inning. Bolander and E.J. Trickett led off with back-to-back hits and Truman Weese walked. Bolander and Trickett scored on wild pitches, and Weese scored on Jacob Bolander’s ground out to third base.

The runs helped eliminate North Marion’s 2-0 lead, which they earned when Travis Smith and Keegun McCullough doubled and scored in the first inning.

“The game was basically decided in the first inning. That’s how baseball is, though,” said Seccuro. “I thought it would be a shootout, but it turned into a pitching duel.”

For North Marion, Matt Hawkins struck out two, walked three and surrendered five hits in five innings, and Christian Tomana worked a perfect sixth inning.

At the plate for North Marion, Smith doubled twice, McCullough doubled and singled, and Matt Hawkins, Tomana and Cody Opron tacked on hits.

For East Fairmont, E.J. Trickett had two hits, James Bolander, Jacob Bolander and David McQuain had one each.

Email Mike DeFabo at or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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