Prep baseball: Hedgesville takes Class AAA baseball crown
Cabell Midland junior Seth Kinker pitched a complete-game shutout in the Class AAA State Tournament semifinals on Friday.
On Saturday, he went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the championship.
It wasn't enough.
Hedgesville overcame a two-run deficit after the first inning, scoring four runs in the fourth and pitcher Derrick Snyder made it hold up in a 4-2 victory and the first state high school baseball championship for the Eagles (29-8).
Snyder struck out the game's first batter, and after an error and back-to-back doubles for a 2-0 Cabell Midland lead, the Knights (23-11) didn't get a runner to third base. In fact, the only runner to reach second base after the first for Cabell Midland came from a Taylor Kuhn fly ball. Following a double play, Kuhn lifted a fly to center field that Troy Markley settled under, but dropped.
After Hedgesville players flooded out of the dugout to celebrate with their pitcher, they were called back to the dugout, not yet realizing the ball hadn't been caught.
"I was trying to grab the kids that were trying to run around me," Hedgesville Coach Dirk Webb said. "It went in the glove, but I think that's probably the first ball Troy's dropped all year."
Cabell Midland Coach Tracy Brumfield argued interference and that his runner should've been allowed to advance to second, but to no avail.
Kinker singled to put runners on first and second, but Bryton Jobe grounded out to second base to end the game.
"I was arguing that's interference," Brumfield said. "You're coming across the field, you have a guy who might be going to second base and you have guys cutting in front of him. In his eyes, there was no way it was interference. What are you going to do about that?"
While there were two outs, and Kinker's ensuing single might have scored Kuhn from second base, Cabell Midland had two outs and a hill yet to climb.
Still, Webb felt empathy for Brumfield's situation.
"I can totally understand where he would be upset about that and I'm sure if I was on his side, I would be upset about it as well," Webb said. "It was a bunch of kids that got excited a little prematurely. It was unfortunate and I'm sorry it happened."
For the Eagles' part, they capped a postseason during which they had to survive traditional Class AAA power Jefferson in the Region 2 semifinal and Hampshire - a team that finished 25-4 and was 3-0 combined against Jefferson, Hedgesville and defending champion Princeton.
Hedgesville's Daniel Heleine ended his season with as many home runs (16) as he came to the State Tournament with, but singled to open the fourth-inning rally and scored his team's first run.
Tyler Anders had a two-run single during the fourth and Cameron Jordan grounded out to score the fourth run.
At that point, Cabell Midland's offense was limited to Kinker. In the final four innings, the Knights were 3-for-16, with two of those hits belonging to the junior.
A pair of two-out singles by Kinker was for naught, as was the one from Brady Elkins in the sixth.
"They're all great teams," Snider said. "We came in, focused, not cocky, just confident. We know we're a great team if we put it all together."
The defeat ended an 11-game winning streak for Cabell Midland, and extended Hedgesville's winning streak to 11 games. The Eagles have won 15 of their last 16 games with the only defeat being a 6-3 loss to Martinsburg - one of only two in-state losses for Hedgesville.