Preston County edges Post 7 in tourney opener
ELKINS – After putting Preston County ahead in the 10th inning with his bat against Buckhannon on Wednesday night, Levi Nolan ended the game a short time later with his arm.
The Preston High School all-stater cracked an RBI sacrifice fly to break an 8-all deadlock, then threw out Post 7’s Dalton Westfall at the plate for the final out in Post 56’s exciting 9-8 victory in the opening game of the American Legion Area 5 Tournament being held at Robin Harvey Memorial Field.
Westfall’s RBI double in the eighth had given Buckhannon an 8-7 advantage.
Preston County tied the game in the ninth when Kyle Cool reached on a hit-bats-man and later scored on a wild pitch.
Walks to pinch-hitter Brady Baker and Noah Torralba started the 10th for Post 56. After both runners advanced on a balk, Nolan delivered a sacrifice fly to left to plate Baker with the go-ahead run.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Westfall singled and moved to second on a stolen base. Brandon Newcomb followed with a sharp single to center to Nolan, who delivered a strike to home to record the final out.
Post 56 took a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Cool reached on an error that plated a run, R.T. Hare lofted a sacrifice fly and Saige Cline raced home on a wild pitch.
Buckhannon answered with five runs in the bottom of the frame around a pair of hits, five walks and an error.
Westfall had an RBI sacrifice fly during the rally, while Tyler Shreve and Carson Alderson drew bases-loaded walks, and Bryson Fluke cracked an RBI single.
A two-run homer by Kaleb Atkinson and a run-producing single from Hare gave Post 56 a 6-5 edge an inning later.
Buckhannon dented the scoreboard for a pair of runs in the fourth on a double steal and Newcomb’s RBI single to regain a 7-6 edge.
Preston County tied the game in the seventh when Logan Menear singled and later scored on a wild pitch.
Cline earned the win in three innings of relief for Post 56, allowing one run on four hits and fanning four.
Luke Pudder was saddled with the loss, giving up two runs on no hits and walking four in 2 1/3 innings.
Post 56 will face top-seed Elkins at 5 p.m. today. The loser will then battle Buckhannon in an elimination game at approximately 8 p.m.
The title game is set for 4 p.m. Friday.