Staying alive: Woodrow beats Oak Hill, forces decisive game

May 10—Playing with its back against the wall looks good on Woodrow Wilson.

Facing elimination for the third straight night, the second-seeded Flying Eagles again passed the test. Now they're in position to make it pay off with a championship.

Freshman Drew Gallaher went the distance and Woodrow took advantage of rare control problems from Oak Hill starter Jayden McLain in a 6-2 win over the No. 3 Red Devils Friday at Thomas F. Parham Field Friday in Beckley.

The teams will meet in a decisive game Saturday at 6:30 p.m., with the winner going on to the Region 3 series the week of May 20.

"We've got to come out and win," Gallaher said. "The rest is done, so we should be good."

The Flying Eagles got a huge lift when McLain — a pitcher they had never beaten — struggled to get out of the first inning.

After Maddex Sims reached on an error to lead it off, McLain walked Ty Evans and Chase Tolliver consecutively to load the bases with no one out. Gage Price's sacrifice fly scored Sims with the first run.

Blake Nixon then walked to reload the bases, and this time it was Gallaher with the sac fly, driving in Evans. Brady Williams then went the opposite way with a single to right to drive in Tolliver, and Parker Williams walked — McLain's fourth of the inning.

Nixon scored on a wild pitch and Woodrow claimed a 4-0 lead.

All four runs were unearned thanks to the error.

McLain threw 38 pitches in the inning, 21 of them balls.

"Uncharacteristic out of him," Oak Hill coach Chris Hendrick said. "A 16-, 17-year-old kid, got a lot going through his head. I tried to tell him before the game, you've been here. It's tough — this is our fourth meeting. In any sport it's tough to beat a team four times.

"I thought we were going to get them when I found out they were going to pitch Gallagher. Somebody that we haven't seen. I knew he had a little off speed."

The Flying Eagles have been at a disadvantage since dropping a 7-1 opener to Oak Hill on Tuesday and going into must-win mode. They have done just that, and Gallaher has played a big part. He shut out Princeton over 4 2/3 innings and got the win in Wednesday's 8-1 win.

On Friday, he was steady in facing the Red Devils' ace. He gave up six hits and only two runs, one earned, while striking out four and walking one.

He is 2-0 with nine strikeout, two walks and eight hits allowed and has a 0.60 earned run average in 11 2/3 innings pitched in the series.

"My (defense) really did all the work," Gallaher said. "My catcher (Gage Price) caught a great game. Outfield really worked. Infield made some great plays."

Gallaher raised his record to 8-0.

"I've pitched in a lot of games, so just trying to keep my composure first time pitching in some really big situations," he said.

"He's got some big wins for us this year," Woodrow coach Mike McKinney said. "All our freshmen are stepping up big right now, but him in particular. Him and Brady both. And Gage Price, too. He played really well (Thursday) night (an 11-6 elimination win over Greenbrier East)"

Oak Hill showed signs of getting back into it with single runs in the second (Aiden Smith drove in Conner Smith with a sac bunt) and the third (Owen Grose singled in McLain, who had reached on an error).

And McLain seemed to settle down after his first inning. He allowed an RBI single by Price to drive in Evans, who had double, in the second. But that inning ended on a heads-up play by Grose.

Isaiah Lewis, the courtesy runner for Price, stole second and went to third when the throw got into center field. Trent Rider's throw to third went over the head of shortstop Aiden Smith covering the bag, but Grose, backing up the play, retrieved the ball and threw to home to catcher Hunter Elswick to gun down Lewis for the third out.

But the Flying Eagles picked up a sixth run in the fourth on an RBI single by Tolliver.

Perhaps the Red Devils' last chance came in the fifth when they had the top of the order up. McLain singled and went to second on an error with one out and Elswick was hit by a pitch. Grose then popped out foul to Nixon at first, and Nixon turned around and threw to second to double up McLain, who had broken for third and couldn't get back in time to avoid the inning-ending out.

Williams will take the mound Saturday for Woodrow against Oak Hill left-hander Rider.

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