Cabell Midland 5, St. Albans 3
Charleston – Returning to the state baseball tournament for the first time in 11 years, top-seeded Cabell Midland knew it would have it hands full with a feisty St. Albans team.
The resilient Knights were up to the challenge.
Trailing most of the game, the Knights scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to secure a 5-3 win.
“This feels great. I tip my cap to my kids for not giving up. We were down 2-0 and the went down again 3-2. The kids didn’t quit and never got down on themselves,” Cabell Midland head coach Tracy Brumfield said. “This is a tough team to beat. We beat them the first time 11-1 on April 13, but I told them this wouldn’t be the same team we played then.”
The No. 4 Red Dragons received a break on the first pitch of the game and rode it to a 2-0 lead.
A solid liner from Ayden Youngblood was misplayed into a triple giving the Red Dragons the early momentum.
Garrett Comer then doubled Youngblood home for 1-0 lead and later scored on a botched rundown attempt.
Although St. Albans took a quick 2-0 lead, it let a big inning slip away after stranding runners at second and third with one out.
Midland cut the deficit in half on an RBI ground out from Kenyon Collins in the bottom of the first and evened the game on an infield error from the Red Dragons in the third.
St. Albans went back in front in the top of the fifth inning after getting runners to second and third again with one out.
A ground ball from Tristan Harless made it a 3-2 game, but St. Albans failed to do more damage.
“We just told (starting pitcher) Kenyon Collins to get out of it with minimal damage. We didn’t need any crooked (numbers) up on the board,” Brumfield said. “Just give up one run. That first inning wasn’t how we wanted to start, but fortunately we won.”
Collins’ ability to limit the damage paid huge dividends in the sixth when Midland erupted for three crucial runs.
A pair of lead-off singles turned into runs when Jack Eastone went inside-out to hit a liner down the right field line.
Hunter McSweeney capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly and Jared Nethercutt pitched two scoreless to secure the win.
The trip to the Class AAA title game caps a wild ride for Midland that started with a loss in the opening game of sectional play.
“Our backs were against the wall, especially against Huntington and Spring Valley. We had to play Spring Valley the last two games at their place,” Brumfield said. “We were fortunate to win the sectional there and then we got Hurricane. It has not been an easy road, but I will take it.”
Hedgesville 3, University 1
Charleston – The name Delauter is well known in the baseball circles around West Virginia.
Most of those folks know the name from Chase Delauter who starred at Hedgesvillle and was the 16th overall pick of the Cleveland Guardians in the 2022 Major League Baseball draft.
Friday afternoon in the Class AAA state baseball tournament semifinal at Go-Mart Park, younger brother Lane added to the Delauter legacy.
PItching 6.2 innings, the youngster handcuffed University, allowing only three hits and one earned run in a 3-1 win over the Hawks.
“His last four or five games have been tremendous on the mound. I feel so good for him because of the family name. He goes to every ball park in America and it’s , oh, you are not Chase,” Hedgesville head coach Eric Grove said. “(Lane) did something today that means a lot to our community, to hisself and to his family. I am super proud of him. He needed a moment like this and he went and got it.”
Delauter’s teammates gave him all of the run support he needed in the opening at bat.
Braylon Connor ignited Hedgesville in the leadoff spot with a single and took third on a double from Noah Brown.
Connor then scored on a wild pitch before singles from Landon Pence and Connor Quinn made it a 3-0 lead before University swung the first bat.
“This was the opposite script of how we have played the last 25 games. Reverse trends are kind of a thing when you get in these crunch time games,” Grove said. “I thought this would be a higher scoring game if Lane didn’t have his best stuff, but he did. Their kids just couldn’t get in a rhythm with him filling up the zone with a lot of different pitches and that was good.
Wenkai Campbell put University on the board with an RBI-single in the bottom of the first frame.
The single followed a base hit from Cody Thomas, but the Hawks could muster just one hit the rest of the way.
While Delauter was baffling the Hawks, the Eagles defense was stellar behind him performing several web gems.
First baseman Jaxson Ruest started a key double play to keep University from scoring and right fielder Landon Pence made a nice over the shoulder catch near the right field wall to save a sure double and possibly a triple in the sixth inning.
“He looked so smooth,” Grove said about Pence. “He has a really effective first read which makes him a really good outfielder with unique closing speed. He is also a really smart outfielder.”
Hedgesville advances to the AAA state championship game where it will battle Cabell Midland Saturday afternoon at approximately 1 p.m.