Prep baseball: Redskins aim to push past Knights
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The year was 2004 and the Cabell Midland-Hurricane high school baseball rivalry was in its relative infancy.
The Redskins sent hard-throwing right-hander Alex Wilson to the mound to try to stay alive in the Class AAA Region 4, Section 3 best-of-three series.
Even Wilson, who is a middle reliever for the Boston Red Sox, couldn't keep Cabell Midland from eliminating the Redskins.
The names have changed many times in the eight postseasons since, but the dominance has not as the teams square off at 6:30 p.m. today in the Class AAA Region 4 semifinals at Lola Meeks Memorial Field.
Since Brandon Halstead pitched Hurricane to a 5-0 regional victory over the Knights in 2002, Cabell Midland owns a 12-6 record in the sectionals and regionals combined against the Redskins, including a 4-1 record in sectional series.
Cabell Midland Coach Tracy Brumfield, who has a 10-5 postseason record against Hurricane since becoming head coach in 2004, said it doesn't have as much to do with the opponent.
"You have to come out and make the routine plays," Brumfield said. "Routine plays have beaten us or we lose because we don't make the routine play in the game. You have to win each game, each inning, each swing."
Most of the talk is centered on the 2007 season when the Knights swept the Redskins in their three meetings, handing Hurricane its only losses that year.
"The truth is, we never talk about that," Hurricane Coach Brian Sutphin said. "A lot of that stuff, again, without sounding like a broken record, none of that really pertains (to these kids). They don't put a lot of credence in that, and 2013 is nothing like 2012, it really isn't. Everybody's changed, every team's changed. It's certainly changed a lot over five years."
Sutphin, who is in his fifth season at Hurricane, and the Redskins (25-4) haven't lost back-to-back games this season, but in their quest for a third consecutive Mountain State Athletic Conference championship, they lost to Cabell Midland. In 2012, Hurricane defeated the Knights in the MSAC semifinals 9-5.
Hurricane's backbone has been seniors Riley Metz and Connor Adams, but it's the steady bats of the underclassmen that have set the Redskins apart.
Metz and Adams have combined for seven home runs and 49 RBI, while sophomores Tate Brock and J.T. Rogoszewski are hitting .390 and .385, respectively, as the only regulars batting higher than .350.
The Hurricane pitching staff has been lights out with a 1.50 earned run average and averaging 1.1 strikeouts and 0.31 walks per inning. Also, the Redskins pitchers have given up more than four runs just four times - a 10-6 loss to Huntington on March 15, a 10-0 loss to Powhatan (Va.) and a 7-6 loss to Parkersburg South on April 13. They have seven shutouts.
For Cabell Midland's part, the Knights best player has been junior Seth Kinker, the younger brother of former Cabell Midland and Marshall standout golfer Nathan Kinker.
Kinker has a 6-4 record with a 2.30 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. Offensively, the Knights rely heavily upon Kinker.
He is batting .468 as the only regular above .350 and has 14-of-14 on stolen bases and has walked 16 times while striking out just five.
"We've had a lot of good ballplayers come through here," Brumfield said. "Even (assistant coach Jason) Holmes made a comment about Kinker. When we go to hit before a game, some guys will sit down and take a break. He never does. There's not one time when he's sitting down. He's constantly swinging."
Cabell Midland has won eight consecutive games, a streak that started at the tail end of a three-game losing skid, which included defeats to Spring Valley and Nitro.
The Knights avenged the loss to the Timberwolves with a pair of sectional victories over Coach Jim Hensley's squad.
Hurricane has won 12 of its last 13 games - with the only loss being to Midland.
In the other Region 4 semifinal at 6:30 p.m. today, Logan visits Winfield. The winner of that game will host the winner of the Cabell Midland-Hurricane game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for a spot in the State Tournament.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.