Prep baseball: Blunder-filled night dooms Winfield in loss to Cabell Midland
WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Cabell Midland wanted to make sure there were no leftovers from Monday's emotional eight-inning Class AAA Region 4 semifinal victory against Hurricane on Tuesday.
The Knights scored two runs in the first inning, starting a bizarre night of blunders and scoring in almost every way imaginable in a 15-7 Region 4 championship win over Winfield (13-16).
The victory sends the Knights to the State Tournament for the third time under Coach Tracy Brumfield and for the first time since the Knights fell to South Charleston in the 2006 title game.
Yes, the memory of ending Hurricane's season for the third time in the last four years was long gone for Brumfield's team, which will play in the state semifinals at approximately 7:30 p.m. May 31 against the winner of the Region 3 championship. That final, pitting Riverside and Beckley on the Flying Eagles' home field, was postponed on Wednesday and has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. today.
"The biggest thing I worried about is sitting and waiting to play," said Brumfield, who was doused by a cooler full of ice water shortly after the game. "I thought our kids came out loose, I thought at practice yesterday they were loose. They did what they were supposed to do."
Winfield's blunder-filled night assisted Midland's State-Tournament cause. The Generals had two errors in the first inning, one in the second, two in the third, one in the sixth and one in the seventh.
The Generals also walked eight batters and gave up runs on passed balls, wild pitches and even a balk.
"This is two straight years in the regional final, but we don't want that," Winfield Coach Will Isaacs said. "We want to win in the regional final and move on. Our expectations are that whoever is put in there to do the job would do it, and we didn't today in several instances."
The Knights (23-10) received a fielder's choice from their star player, Seth Kinker, for the game's first run. Kinker, however, didn't get a hit until his last at bat - a towering fly ball to left field that put him on second.
All told, Cabell Midland hammered out 11 hits and 15 runs with minimal offensive assistance from its No. 1 player.
"This is great, and we work hard in practice every day and we have fun with it," Kinker said. "A lot of teams, if you look at it, are tight, they're stiff. They think if they make an error, it's over. We showed them that we just have fun with it."
Cabell Midland tried to put the game away early, taking a 10-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning. Winfield didn't throw in the towel, getting Tyler Hayes - Cabell Midland's undefeated starter - to issue two walks before Jordan Clark hit his sixth home run of the season in one of the toughest hitting fields in the Kanawha Valley.
Winfield continued to chip away, getting a run on a single by Jonah Sneeringer in the fourth and a run on a John "Bear" Bellomy double and a Bryan Bosley RBI single.
The Generals cut the lead in half, but there was only so much that Isaacs' shuffling of his pitching staff could do. Winfield used ace Josh Bumgarner to eliminate Logan on Monday, making him unavailable.
In this one, Isaacs started seldom-used Dana Harper, relieving him with Zach Strong, bringing in freshman Casey Frye and Brett Adkins, before reentering Harper and finishing with Brandon Wright.
Cabell Midland was unsympathetic, adding three runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to quell any thoughts of a Winfield comeback.
Catcher Brady Elkins was 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Knights, who had 12 hits - 11 of which were singles.
Cole Tilley had two hits and two RBI and Cody Ballengee was 1-for-2 with two RBI. He walked three times with one pushing home a run in the seventh.
"Even when it was 8-0 I wasn't comfortable," said Brumfield of Winfield, which swept Hurricane in the sectionals in 2012 and upset Logan in the regional semifinal on Monday at Winfield. "They're here, and they play well here. They play with a lot of confidence."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837.