Keyser rallies late, stuns Weir 6-4 to tie best-of-three series

May 15—KEYSER, W.Va. — With the season on the line and their backs against the ropes, No. 3 Keyser rallied late and stunned Weir in a 6-4 comeback victory on Tuesday in game two of the Class AA, Region I finals.

"Credit to Weir, they had it where they wanted it," Keyser head coach Colton Jones said. "They were hungry, they wanted to win. I'm so proud of the girls, they battled, that's what we need."

The Golden Tornado (24-9) trailed 1-0 in the series and after four innings, it looked like its season would end in a series sweep.

The Red Riders (21-11) scored two runs in the first and second innings to go up 4-0.

In the first inning, the first pitch of the game was a lineout to shortstop that was dropped.

With two on, a grounder to the pitcher and a high throw to third brought in two runs for Weir.

The Riders put runners on the corners in the second inning, then an Eliza Utt single and Kylie Dean double each drove in a run.

Through four innings, Keyser had two hits, two walks and reached once on an error.

Needing a win to force a decisive third game, the Golden Tornado rallied in the fifth inning.

"We're playing a good team, we jumped out and got a four-run lead," Weir head coach John Leary said. "The thing I was concerned about actually happened. Instead of us continuing to stay focused and piling on runs, I think we were satisfied a little bit. When you play a good team, you can't be satisfied."

A Kailynn Burns single, a Brielle Root double and a Leighton Johnson walk loaded the bases with no outs.

A ground ball to third allowed Gigi Paladina to step on third for one out, then throw home to catcher Loganne Barton at home for a double play.

However, a two-out rally was sparked on a line drive RBI single from Rylee Mangold for the Tornado's first run.

Three pitches later, Bibs Felton reached on a fielding error at first base, scoring another run.

"Our energy, our want-to," Jones said of what changed. "We challenged the girls, said we gotta lay it out here. Our season's on the line and they responded."

Keyser cut it to 4-3 on a double steal with Felton taking second while Mangold swiped home plate.

After a quick two outs in the top of the sixth, a fly ball to Ivy Bromhal had the launch angle and the distance for a potential home run.

Backed up against the fence, Bromhal robbed at least a double, if not more for a 1-2-3 inning.

"We had her just play defense tonight and that was a game-saving catch," Jones said.

The Tornado loaded the bases again in the sixth to open the frame.

Suzy Consenza and Burns singled and Mady McIntyre reached on a fielder's choice.

"As the game went on, we let the bottom of their batting order start innings for them," Leary said. "That's to their girls credit, I'm not happy with that. We can't let their seven, eight and nine hitters start innings."

After a pair of flyouts, a four pitch walk drawn by Likens tied the game.

On the next pitch, Mangold sent a fly ball to right center for a two-run single to put Keyser ahead.

The Riders tried to answer in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with two hit batters and a fielding error on a fly ball to right center.

"I knew they were gonna battle back, and then and we get in crucial situations and we made mistakes," Leary said. "Good teams take advantage when you make mistakes. I'm real disappointed with how we played from the fifth to seventh innings."

With one out, Mangold struck out the next two batters to complete the comeback.

Johnson started for Keyser and went three innings, allowing two hits, two earned runs and three walks with a pair of strikeouts.

"We asked her to get through their order one time and she did what she needed to do," Jones said. "We were trying to give Rylee a bit of rest, unfortunately we had to bring her in. She came in and did what she needed to do."

Mangold earned the win in four shutout innings, allowing one hit and two walks with five strikeouts.

The Tornado finished with eight hits, six across the final two innings.

Mangold was the only one with two hits, also driving in three RBIs.

Eliza Utt went the distance for Weir, allowing eight hits, four earned runs and four walks without a strikeout.

Dean had two of the Riders' three hits and an RBI.

Keyser will head to Weirton, West Virginia for game three on Wednesday at 6 p.m. with a trip to the state tournament on the line.

"Anytime someone's playing with desperation, they're playing for their season to be over or not be over," Leary said. "A wounded animal's a dangerous animal. You got them to the point where they're facing elimination, they're gonna buckle down and play hard. They're gonna make you beat them, and we didn't."

The Red Riders have only reached states twice, but won a state title both times in 1982 and 1994.

For the Golden Tornado, a win would clinch the second state tournament appearance in school history and the first since 2012.

"It would mean everything, we've been going at this for four years," Jones said. "We've been so close, two of the last three years have been game threes. It would mean a lot to this program, the town of Keyser to bust the door down and get where we wanna go."

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Email him with scores and story suggestions at