Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — After committing two costly, late errors in Friday’s district semifinal contest against Rock Hill — two errors that almost cost a win — Westfall’s defense played like it had something to prove Saturday afternoon.
Competing in a Division III district championship against Wheelersburg, time and time again, the Mustangs (23-4) relied on their defense to slip out of scoring threats.
That, combined with a masterful pitching performance from Eric Corzatt, led Westfall to a 2-1 win over the Pirates — the program’s first district championship win since 2010.
“Our defense really stepped it up today and made plays,” Westfall coach Trevor Thomas said. “Our defense played great. Eric keeps the ball around the strike zone. Not a lot of balls were hit hard and that gives you a chance to make a play.”
Corzatt was among those most thankful for the defensive performance his Mustangs displayed.
“I have all the trust in the world in those guys,” Corzatt said. “I know if I make a mistake, my defense has my back. They always get the out.”
The Mustangs got on the board first when Jayden Hammond doubled to bring Matt Baemel, who had singled earlier, making it 1-0 in the top of the second inning.
Wheelersburg (20-7) finally tied the score in the bottom of the fifth when Brady Warren knocked in a run with a two-out single. But in the top of the sixth, Westfall retook a one-run lead when Zach Gibson, pinch-running for Jayden Hammond, scored on an RBI single from Eric Corzatt.
In the bottom of the sixth, Wheelersburg loaded the bases with just an out. But a line drive off the bat of Athan Temponeras found Jay Wyman’s glove at second base. Wyman turned to the bag, flipped the ball to shortstop Brayton Felger and doubled up a runner, ending the threat.
Corzatt then cruised through the seventh, retiring Wheelersburg’s final three batters in order. The senior tossed all seven innings, throwing just 85 pitches, allowing just five hits and an earned run.
“I knew [Wheelersburg] had a lot of good hitters coming in,” Corzatt said. “That’s a great hitting team. So I tried to work ahead on each batter, really tried to hit my spots and keep them off-balance. Just mixing up different looks worked and, of course, I let me defense work.”
Corzatt also made a difference at the plate, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI. Hammond was 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and an RBI.
For the Pirates, Jalen Miller was 2-for-3 at the plate and took the loss on the mound, throwing seven innings and allowing an earned run on eight hits. Warren was 1-for-2 with an RBI, and Case Dyer scored the Pirates’ run.
Westfall advances to play Minford in a Division III regional semifinal at 2 p.m., Thursday at VA Memorial Stadium. The Falcons were a 10-0 winner over Adena earlier in the day.
A win would mark the Mustangs’ first trip to a regional final in school history.
“Getting a win is going to take the same thing it’s taken getting to here,” Thomas said. “We have to come out, play outstanding defense, get some timely hitting and be consistent on the mound.”