STEUBENVILLE - The participants in Monday's George Kovalick Ohio Valley Athletic Conference All-Star Baseball Game were excited to just be a part of the game that brings together top players from around the conference.
That doesn't mean they didn't come to win.
In the bottom of the eighth Bishop Donahue's Joe Myers drove in Wheeling Park's Trevor Stewart, who just hit a game-tying triple, to give West Virginia a 6-5 lead. John Marshall's Jeremiah Fromhart then shut the Buckeyes down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to preserve the Mountaineers' victory.
RUNDOWN — Steubenville’s John Linn tags out John Marshall’s Zach Winland during a rundown at Monday’s George Kovalick OVAC All-Star Baseball Game at Vaccaro Field.
-- Fred Younce
"Coach (Dave) Cisar called it," said Oak Glen's Trey Smith of West Virginia's rally. "He said, 'in the eighth inning we're going to come back and get the winning run,' and we did so I don't think there was much doubt among the players."
Edison's Alec Jones felt it was a great event even though his Ohio squad came out on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
"It was fun because we're all competitive," he said. "You always want to beat the other team, even in an all-star game. Even though we didn't win, to be part of a game like this is fun."
Added Big Red's Pat Pizzoferrato, "It was fun because it was competitive. Everyone stayed in the game, and we got to talk and play with players we've never had the chance to before."
West Virginia started the game strong. After Ohio scored a run in the top of the first the Mountaineer squad scored three in the bottom of the frame for the 3-1 lead.
The boys from the Buckeye state came right back with two in the top of the second, and took a 5-3 lead with runs in the fourth and fifth innings before West Virginia pulled back within one in the sixth to set up the eighth-inning heroics.
Fromhart was credited with the win with Wheeling Park's Andrew Kowalo, John Marshall's Shane Wellman, Madonna's Tory Fuscardo and Magnolia's Chandler Sapp combining with him to strike out 10 and walk four. Cameron's Mark Walker and John Marshall's Zach Winland each drove in two runs.
For Ohio, Edison's Ryan Kramarich, Monroe Central's Kordell Antill and Steubenville's Matt Petrella combined to strike out six and walk two with Petrella being credited with the loss. Petrella, along with Steubenville Catholic Central's Joe DeFallo and Kyle Laukert, each drove in a run.
For the West Virginia players, it was nice to get a win over their rivals from the other side of the river.
"It feels real good," said Brooke's Austin Schambach. "Especially not having a win in a long time, it feels real good to finally get back on top over Ohio."
Added Fuscardo, "It's a great feeling. I knew we had a good team coming in. I didn't think would be this close. I don't like close games like this, but it makes it exciting.
"We have a very good all-star team. I knew we could do it. I knew we'd pull it out."
Continued Smith, "It feels really good. They said it was the first time we've beat them in so many years so it feels really good to win."
For Weir's Matt Cessna the win over Ohio was fun beyond just West Virginia taking one in the series.
"It feels great," he said. "Losing to teams from Ohio all season on my team, we could never beat them, it feels nice to come here, play good baseball and win."
For many of the players, getting the chance to compete on the same team with former rivals is what makes the game special.
"It's real fun," said Schambach. "Some of your enemies from other teams become good friends playing in this game. It's just fun.
"It's a good environment, and it's fun to be a part of."
Added Cessna, "It's awesome to come together, and not have to go against them. There are some real good players on this team, and it's nice to have them on our side."
DeFallo stated, "It's a great opportunity. I'm thankful to get to play in this game, and get to play with some guys that I used to play with or I played against over the past four years. It was fun."
Continued Jones, "It was really fun. It was cool getting to meet all the great players from all around the conference and get to see all that talent come together.
"It was just an all-around fun experience."
Indian Creek's Alex Young added, "Across the board getting to play with new kids from all over was fun. I was excited to play with the Cambridge kids because I've always played against them going up through high school so it was nice to actually be on the same team as them for once."
For some the game brought people back together.
"I was excited my cousin from down at Magnolia (Tyler Hanna) was on the team, and Tory. I played with him since T-ball. It was good linking back up with them for one last game."
Added Fuscardo, "Austin Schambach and I played together all the way back since Little League. We always played against each other after, and when we got to high school, so it was nice playing with him again."
Continued DeFallo, "The Big Red guys from my state Babe Ruth team. It was fun playing with them again. A.Y. (Alex Young) and I have been playing together since T-ball. It was fun to get back on the field with him."
Pizzoferrato summed up the thoughts of many of the game's participants when he said, "It was fun we got to play with these guys from other teams. It was an honor to be invited and play in this game. It was one of the funnest games I've played in in a while."
West Virginia 6, Ohio 5
Ohio 120 110 000 - 5 9 1
West Virginia 300 001 02x - 6 7 3
OHIO: Kramarich (2K, 1BB), Antill (3rd, 2K, 0BB), Petrella (6th, LP, 2K, 1BB) and Laukert. Defallo D, rbi; Petrella S, rbi; Lang 2S; Young 2S; Laukert S, rbi; Jones T, rbi; Roe D.
WEST VIRGINIA: Kowalo (2K, 0BB), Wellman (2nd, 3K, 0BB), Fuscardo (4th, 2K, 2BB), Sapp (6th, 3K, 2BB), Fromhart (8th, WP, 2K, 1BB) and Winland. Walker S, 2 rbi; Winland 2S, 2rbi; Stewart T, rbi; Elliott D; Myers S, rbi.