CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Though tense at times, the Riverside baseball team played with fun, and that's been the theme for the Warriors who advanced to their second consecutive Class AAA Region 3 championship.
Riverside needed extra innings and a bit of good fortune to win at South Charleston, 4-1, in eight innings on Tuesday night. With the win, Riverside advances to play at Beckley (19-9) at 5 p.m. today for the regional championship.
Through the postseason, Riverside has played well, but the key to that success has been a "fun" attitude, Coach Chris Hawkins said.
"You see I got 'FUN' written on my hat," Hawkins said as he pointed to the brim of his cap. "We took a Sharpie and we wrote it on all the kids' hats and we told them that, before the playoffs started that there wouldn't be no blow-outs. They were all going to be nail-biters, they were all going to be tough."
Throughout the hotly contested regional semifinal, Hawkins said he reiterated the message.
"I just kept reminding them throughout the game, 'Hey, look at your hat,' " he said. "'Remember what we have written on our hat. The team that wants to have the most fun is going to win this game,' and just getting them to realize these situations aren't pressure situations, they're not situations where you to look fail. They're situations where you look to succeed and have fun."
Riverside (13-15) and South Charleston (16-14) entered extra innings tied 1-1. Only one team finished the game with a fun feeling, though.
Warriors lead-off hitter Derik Chestnut started the eighth inning with a single. Next, Brandon Hancock laid down a bunt that bounced back to SC starting pitcher Jarod Jobst. Instead of throwing to first, Jobst opted to throw to second for the force out, but an errant throw allowed the runners to reach first and second safely.
A sacrifice bunt by Tyler Hall advanced the runners to second and third before a wild pitch allowed Chestnut to score, giving Riverside a 2-1 advantage. Aaron Halstead and Trevor Rumberg later followed with RBI hits that provided a comfortable cushion at 4-1.
Hall retired the Black Eagles in the bottom of the eighth inning to cement the win.