CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Over the past few seasons, the St. Albans baseball team has had to suffer through watching archrival Nitro end its year in postseason play on the way to deep runs of its own.
Nitro has beaten St. Albans the past five years in sectional play and the Wildcats have gone on to endure great success, winning two state titles in 2008 and 2010, and a runner-up finish in 2009.
This year, though, St. Albans (20-3), winners of 10 in a row, is hoping to end the drought, and they certainly are playing like a team more than capable of doing it.
Having one of their best seasons in years, the Red Dragons took another step in dethroning the Wildcats, earning an 11-1 mercy-rule win over Nitro at Loftis Field Thursday night.
"It's been tough," St. Albans catcher Justin Hunt said of Nitro's dominance recently over the Red Dragons. "It just makes us want to come out here and play even harder. This is a good win. We are getting ready for sectionals. It's setting the bar up high."
Nitro Coach Steve Pritchard knows his Wildcats (14-5) have a tall task ahead of them if they are to knock off the Red Dragons in postseason play again.
"It's going to take a monumental effort to beat these guys at any level: sectionals, regionals, or the state tournament," Pritchard said. "They are really good and probably the best team we have seen this year."
Despite getting a huge confidence-building win over Nitro, St. Albans Coach Rick Whitman indicated it was just another game for his Red Dragons.
"It's a big win, and it isn't," Whitman said. "It's just another conference game and that's how we approached it, nothing more than that. I was proud of the guys. They weren't up too much and just came out and played baseball. It's not about who we are playing. It's more about us."
Neither team played their best pitchers in an effort to not show their hand before sectionals, but you wouldn't have been able to tell based on St. Albans senior Ethan Glenn's performance Thursday.
Glenn, the team's No. 3 or No. 4 starter, pitched a gem, only allowing a solo home run to Nitro's Dylan Slack in the second inning. He struck out a season-high nine as well.
"He's a senior who hadn't pitched or played a lot," Whitman said. "He got an opportunity this year, and has taken advantage of it. I'm proud of it. We are confident with Ethan and the rest of our starters. It's a good confidence boost for him and the team."
"Honestly I surprised myself, doing that," Glenn said. "I felt good tonight but I didn't expect to come out and do that. I don't go for strikeouts. I just come out trying to throw strikes. That's what I mainly do and let the fielders do it because we have a solid defense."
Hunt led St. Albans with a grand slam in the third inning to erase a 1-0 deficit. Dylan Ramsey also collected three hits while Luke Whiteside and Josh Burkes added two hits each.