WELLS - Dominating pitching and fielding miscues reigned supreme in Moriah's 3-2 win over Wells in Monday's Section VII Class D quarterfinal matchup.
Moriah lefty Christopher Clarke struck out the side in the first inning and never looked back en route to 16 strikeouts.
Wells starting pitcher Seth Weaver struck out nine Vikings, but the fourth-seeded Indians couldn't get into the offensive groove in a game that remained a nailbiter until the final pitch.
Wells’ Seth Weaver throws to the plate during Monday’s Section VII Class D quarterfinal game against Moriah at Wells Central School. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
Unfamiliar with each other's program, both head coaches figured they were in for a close game.
"We had played just one common opponent and the result was about the same, so I figured it'd be a pretty good ballgame," Moriah coach Casey Nephew said.
Wells coach Bob Stoddard echoed Nephew's sentiments.
"They play up in a real tough league and we knew it was going to be an even game," he said.
After each pitcher retired the side in the first inning, it was the Vikings who drew first blood in the top of the second.
Centerfielder Austin Allen hit a booming triple to right and scored on a passed ball a few pitches later for the first run of the ballgame.
To start off the bottom of the inning, a dropped third strike allowed Wells first baseman Jake Earley to reach base. After Earley swiped second, Clarke issued a walk to Ben Brenan. Earley and Brenan attempted a double steal, and an errant throw to third sailed into the outfield, allowing Earley to score. Tyler Peck singled to right later in the inning to knock in Brenan, giving Wells a 2-1 lead.
With only a few hits given up in subsequent innings, a pitchers' duel carried the game into the sixth, where Moriah took advantage of some poor fielding by the Indians.
Moriah second baseman Tom Callahan reached on an error to kick off the inning.
After getting the next batter to ground out on a slow roller to first, Weaver surrendered a single to C.J. Raymond that got past the right fielder. Raymond sped around the bases and didn't stop until reaching home, giving Moriah a 3-2 lead that Clarke made sure would not be relinquished.
Clarke allowed Adrian Collado to reach base to start off the bottom of the seventh. After a passed ball and a sacrifice bunt put the tying run at third with one out, Clarke dug deep and struck out the final two batters of the game, his 15th and 16th strikeouts of the contest.
"Christopher pitched tough today," Nephew said. "He didn't let the few mistakes we made get him down and he pitched well."
Wells' season came to a close Monday, three days after they were originally scheduled to face Moriah in the quarterfinals.
A weekend of miserable Memorial Day storms delayed action on multiple occasions, something Stoddard feels may have killed some of the Indians momentum.
"We've been off for four days, which didn't help," Stoddard said. "We just didn't hit the ball. He [Clarke] was a nice pitcher."
Fifth-seeded Moriah will travel to Chazy to face the top-seeded Eagles in the semifinals today at 4:30.
Wells finished its season with a 10-3 record.
Moriah 3, Wells 2
Moriah010 002 0 - 3 4 1
Wells020 000 0 - 2 3 2
Clarke and Raymond; Weaver and Brenan