Tyler Consolidated 7, Petersburg 5
Charleston – Making its first appearance at the state baseball tournament in school history, Tyler Consolidated decided it would stick around for the weekend.
Exploded for six runs in the third inning, Tyler rode a strong relief performance by Ty Walton to a 7-5 win Thursday in the Class A semifinals against Petersburg at Go-Mart Park.
“These guys like to scratch out runs, but they love to have big innings,” Tyler Consolidated head coach Robby Jones said. “They scored six runs in the third inning. These guys are never going to quit. That is the mentality that we have and we will keep battling Saturday too.”
Tyler Consolidated took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but the advantage was short lived. A lead-off walk and a throwing error helped the Vikings build a 2-1 lead in the top of the second inning.
Petersburg added to lead in the third inning thanks to an RBI-double from Peyton Tingler and a run scoring single from Elijah Kuykendall, before Jones made a calculated decision to change pitchers trailing 4-1.
“Jayden Helmick is 9-0 and has had a great season for us on the mound. If we lifted him at that moment (with 49 pitches), we are able to bring him back Saturday if we get there,” Jones explained. “When you can go to Ty Walton out of the bullpen, that is huge. He has 300 (strikeouts) coming into tonight. He was the bulldog that he always has been.”
Walton stopped the bleeding for Tyler and in the bottom of the inning, the top-seeded Silver Knights found their bats to take control of the game.
A double from Hayden Brown to left-center ignited the six-run inning by sending home two runs. Jayden Helmick later capped the rally with a bases clearing double for a 7-4 lead
“Hayden Brown, we call him “doubles”. He doesn’t run the fastest on the team, but he just crushes the baseball,” Jones said. “Any park that we play in, that is a home run he hit. He was able to drive runs in and hit the ball hard even when he wasn’t on base.”
Tyler Consolidated will play Wahama Saturday morning at 10 a.m. for the Class A state championship.
“We have been talking about the magic number before the Little Kanawha Valley Conference Tournament and it was nine then,” Jones said. “It is one now to accomplish all of our goals. This team is not going to shy away from anyone and we can’t wait to get back here Saturday morning.”
Wahama 4, Charleston Catholic 1 (11 innings)
Charleston – Last year in the Class A state championship game, Charleston Catholic beat Wahama in a wild extra inning affair.
Thursday night the two schools matched up again in the semifinals of the 2023 state baseball tournament at Go-Mart Park.
Needing extras once again before the dust settled, it was night of redemption for the White Falcons.
After missing a golden opportunity to win the game in the eight inning, Wahama scored three runs in the top of the 11th inning for a 4-1 win over the Irish.
“Wasn’t this a good baseball game? If you are a baseball fan, you really got your monies worth tonight,” Wahama head coach Billy Zuspan said. “That was two quality teams and both teams went out there and played well. We just happened to score a few more runs and we had some timely hits there late. We got a lead and didn’t let up.”
The story across seven innings was the pitching duel between Aaron Henry from Wahama and Jonah Dicocco for Charleston Catholic.
Henry went 7.1 innings before being lifted due to the pitch count rule. Over his time on the mound, Henry allowed just one hit and that was on a fly ball lost in the lights.
Dicocco went eight innings before he hit the pitch limit. The sophomore sensation allowed just three hits and fanned 12 White Falcons, but was saddled with an unearned run.
The run from Wahama came after a throwing error set the table for Ethan Gray who doubled home the first run for a 1-0 lead in the eighth.
Two errors in the bottom of the inning took Wahama from the brink of victory to holding on for dear life to see another inning.
Wahama had good chances to score in the ninth and tenth inning, but could not take advantage.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Catholic mounted a serious threat with a lead-off single and a one-out walk.
Jeff Reynolds smacked a single to left, but the runner was cut down at the plate on a throw from Hayden Lloyd to keep Wahama alive.
“This team wanted this win. Not only to get back to a championship, but we faced Catholic last year down to the last out. It didn’t happen for us,” Zuspan said. “It is now great to get a chance to put that fifth title in Wahama’s (trophy) cabinet.”
The lone unearned Irish run came off of Bryce Zuspan in the eighth. It was Zuspan who stepped to the dish in the top of the 11th inning with a chance to give his team the lead.
An RBI-single from Zuspan was followed by a double from Henry and a triple from Nathan Manuel to break the game open.
“I was really happy with Bryce. I thought he did a good job. Aaron pitched a gem of a game. I thought Bryce came in and held them. He had an opportunity to close it out, but it didn’t happen,” Zuspan said. “We went to Aden and he held them until we could get the runs that we needed.”
With the game tied, freshman Aden Young held the Irish in check over the final three innings, allowing only two hits.
Wahama will now matchup with Tyler Consolidated for the Class A title Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
“I think these boys are hungry and I feel like they showed that tonight,” Zuspan said. “(Tyler) is a conference team that we are familiar with. I am expecting another good game.”