FALLING ROCK, W.Va. - The Herbert Hoover High School baseball team managed to do something against Poca on Tuesday it failed to do during the 2012 Class AA state championship game.
The Huskies scored without the help of All-State leadoff hitter Corey Bird.
It spoke to the focus of this year Huskies, who are undefeated after a 10-0 five-inning victory over their Region 4 rival in Falling Rock.
"We put the ball in play and that's what we preach," said Hoover Coach Brian Young, who is in his sixth year leading the Huskies (7-0). "Put the ball in play, make things happen. I think, one through nine, we're pretty effective at that."
Oddly, the Huskies' first two runs came without the help of Bird, who struck out looking after taking Poca starting pitcher Noah Frampton through an eight-pitch at-bat. It was just the second time Bird has struck out this season and only the third time since the Marshall University recruit's sophomore year.
In last year's Class AA championship game, Bird reached base and had three steals against Wyoming East, but the Huskies dropped a 1-0 decision.
"(That loss) put a hurting on us last year," said No. 3 hitter Ryan Shamblin, who was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a stolen base against Poca (6-2). "It won't happen again this year."
After No. 2 hitter Scooter Farmer was hit by a pitch and Ryan Shamblin walked, Cody Bowen doubled in a run and Austin Thomas singled in Hoover's second run.
Shamblin singled in two runs in the second inning and added a single and stolen base in the fourth inning to lead the Huskies' 13-hit performance against two Poca pitchers.
Bird wound up getting on with a bunt single in the second inning and by an error in the fifth, scoring on both occasions. However, had had only an infield single among Hoover's hits with all but one batter reaching base and all but three getting hits.
"We have other kids who will step up," Young said. "We're not going to get into that situation where we rely on one person. I think that we put a lot on him as a team and I think he's putting too much on himself this year to lead this team. He's going to relax and get into the swing of things."
The Dots were without their ace, Jake Payne, who pitched in Monday's win against Sissonville. Frampton left after the second inning with Poca trailing 6-0. Reliever Skyler Vealey pitched two scoreless innings before three errors in the fifth resulted in three of four runs being unearned and Hoover getting out with a mercy-rule victory in one hour, 35 minutes.
"It was the mentality before the game began," Poca assistant coach J.R. Collins said. "We had a runner on third base and didn't score. I think if you jump out 1-0 then our kids see a little light, have a little faith, the idea that we have a chance to be in the ballgame right out of the gate. Then, you come out and strike out Corey Bird and up 1-0, it's a different mentality throughout the course of the game."