Prep baseball: Hoover wins 2013 Class AA state baseball title
Herbert Hoover's Corey Bird came through for the second consecutive time in the Class AA State Tournament championship game.
This time, he brought along some friends.
Bird had a two-out, two-run, game-tying single in the sixth inning and Hunter White, Ryan Shamblin and Cody Bowen added run-scoring hits to spark a six-run frame as the Huskies rallied for a 7-5 victory over Fairmont Senior, and the school's second state baseball title.
His single to right with the bases loaded came on a 1-2 pitch against Fairmont Senior relief pitcher Matthew Robbins.
"It's awesome," said Bird, who had four stolen bases in the 2012 state final, but Hoover fell to Wyoming East 1-0. "I had two strikes on me and I wasn't going to give up. He put the ball middle in, and I just got the barrel on it and we scored and got a rally going."
The school's first title in any sport came in 2007, when White - the hero of Thursday's semifinal win over Independence - watched his brother James pitch a complete game in the Huskies' state semifinal win over Independence.
"There are only two team championships in the school's history and (me and my brother) both have one," Hunter White said. "That's pretty cool."
This time, the Huskies (31-4) hammered out 10 hits, overcame three errors and a wild fourth inning when the Polar Bears (28-6) took a 5-1 lead.
Starting pitcher Tristan Fields, who went four innings after taking a hard line drive off the ankle two outs into Hoover's semifinal win, surrendered only one earned run. He gave way to Bird in the fifth inning. Bird, who had pitched 26 innings with a 4-0 record and 1.08 earned run average, pitched three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. He caught Trey Hall looking to end the game, setting off a wild celebration on the mound.
"He was able to throw his curveball for strikes," Hoover Coach Brian Young said. "We talked about this six or eight weeks ago and I said, 'You're going to get the chance to pitch in the championship game.' I told him you have six outs to go, and he said, 'We're going to win.'"
On the other side, it meant Fairmont Senior Coach Steve Naternicola lost his seventh state championship game in seven chances.
"I tell you, I know I was going either get seven or one," said the 59-year-old Naternicola, who just completed his 24th season on the Fairmont Senior bench. "We didn't embarrass ourselves down here. We played two good games and they were just the better team in that one inning."
Until Hoover's sixth, the inning that most impacted the game was Fairmont Senior's fourth, when the Polar Bears scored four runs.
First, Johnny Kesling reached on an error and courtesy runner Matthew Strand went to second on a wild pitch. Ryder Skarzinski singled, but Naternicola - the third-base coach - stopped Strand at third.
Gage Hannah, Fairmont Senior's No. 6 batter, laid down a squeeze bunt in front of the plate. Catcher Matthew Farmer fielded the ball and dived back to tag Matthew Strand, who scored Fairmont Senior's second run. While Farmer argued the call, Skarzinski and Hannah went to third and second respectively.
Brandon Plivelich followed with a ground ball back to Fields, who caught Skarzinski in a rundown. Skarzinski was out at the plate, but ejected when it was ruled he didn't try to avoid contact with Fields on the play.
Fields then threw the ball into left field trying to keep the runners from advancing. Two runners scored, but were sent back to first and second base after it was determined the ball was dead.
Naternicola and Hoover Coach Brian Young argued and debated with the umpires until order was restored.
Bailey Mohr's single ended a wild fourth and Fairmont Senior led 5-1.
"I was wondering if we would pull through," Young said. "We were hitting at Capital (high school) this morning and I told them I was looking for us to have a big game. I thought our sticks were going to be a little more alive because we hit the ball really well in the cage today. Came through late, but (the emotions) started to build up a little bit."
In the sixth, the Huskies had two runners with two outs after a single by Austin Thomas, a strikeout, a Farmer single and another strikeout. Shaun Dotson, Hoover's No. 9 hitter, worked Fairmont Senior starting pitcher Andrew Strand into a full count.
Dotson walked to load the bases and Bird laced a single to right for two runs. White then singled in the lead run and Bowen followed with an insurance run.
In the bottom of the inning, an antsy Bird came back to the mound with three outs to secure the title.
Facing the 3-4-5 hitters, he got Austin Norman to ground out, he struck out Kesling swinging and Trey Hall - Skarzinski's replacement - caught looking to end the game.
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NORMAL STARTING shortstop Ryan Shamblin played the position briefly in the semifinal before moving to third and playing second base in the title game. Shamblin injured his left wrist in practice on Wednesday when James White, who was pitching batting practice, hit him.
"James (White) did it," said Shamblin, whose 18th birthday was Saturday. "He got me pretty good. He didn't mean to."
Hunter White, James' younger brother, played shortstop on Saturday in Shamblin's place.
"We're pretty flexible," Shamblin said. "It's no big deal really. We've all played every position."
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HOOVER'S 31 victories surpassed the 30 the Huskies won in 2006, the senior year for Grant Buckner, who is in the Chicago White Sox Class A affiliate Winston-Salem. That season, Hoover lost in the regional final and won the state title a year later. Hoover also reached the State Tournament in 2003 but lost to Lincoln in the semifinals.
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IN THREE State Tournament games, Bird is 7-of-15 (.467) with a double, six stolen bases, five runs, and four RBI.