GRAFTON — For many casual local sports fans, the games often only matter at the end of the season when reviewing overall records or stats. However, for those that are invested with a team, some games are so much more than just a simple notch in the win/loss column. Some games present coaches wtih opportunities for valuable teaching moments, others present players with lessons that are much larger than the game itself.
As Head Coach Adam Squires, his assistants Todd Lane, Drew Mason and their young Buckhannon-Upshur High School Bucs Baseball Team could attest to their games against Lincoln and Grafton last week, on Monday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 27, respectively.
These two games are intricately tied, as the Bucs lost both in heartbreaking fashion on the last play of the game. Losses are never easy to take, but losses that come under those circumstances tend to stick with you.
Last Monday at Lincoln, the two teams went back-and-forth for the first six innings, with neither team able to seize control of the lead. The game was tied 5-5, in the bottom of a decisive seventh inning. With the Bucs trying to extend the game, the Cougars hit a walk-off single on a 3-2 count to win the game, sending the Bucs home in heartbreak.
Then, last Wednesday, the Bucs hit the road again, this time to play Grafton. Entering the looking to rebound off their narrow loss to Lincoln, the Bucs found themselves in a pitcher’s duel as neither team could generate much production offensively against the talented young aces they were battling against every at-bat. As such, the game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Again, with the Bucs trying to extend the game, the Bearcats hit walk-off single to drive in the game-winning run on a 0-2 count. Almost like “Deja vu,” for the second time in three days, the Bucs had lost a game on the very last play.
However, despite consecutive losses coming in devastating fashion, the experienced coaching staff of the Bucs kept the team locked in. With the vibe around the locker-room still positive, the Bucs didn’t dwell on their losses; instead, they learned from them and used that as fuel.
In their third and final road trip of the week, the Bucs traveled to take on Brooke. Leaning into their coaching staff’s belief in them paid dividends for the players of the Bucs varsity team as they left little room for doubt in this one.
Senior Issac Lane was a menace for the opposing Bruin pitchers, going a perfect 4-4 at bat, scoring 3 runs and driving in 3 RBIs, leading the Bucs to a blow-out 12-2 road win. Lane was electric recording a single in the first and fifth innings, a triple in the second, a double in the third, coming only a home run short of a complete cycle.
Junior Zach Calef-Boring got the win for Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers varsity team. The righthander only allowed seven hits and two runs, while striking out four Bruins over the span of five innings pitched.
As a team, the Bucs racked up 11 total hits on the day, with Lane, Ian Donnen and Landon Marple recording multiple hits. The overwhelming consistency of the Bucs’ bats helped them close out the game with relative ease, avoiding the type of tricky situation that they had found themselves in both of their games earlier in the week.
With the win, the Bucs move to 7-15 after a 1-2 week. The resounding response to a pair of consecutive heartbreaking losses shows the character, resiliency and fight that defines the players and coaching staff of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Baseball Program.