PREP BASEBALL: Hurricane earns top seed in MSAC tournament
Now that Hurricane’s midseason swoon is over, the Redskins are ready to settle in for the stretch run of the 2014 high school baseball season.
Coach Brian Sutphin’s team claimed the top spot in the final Mountain State Athletic Conference standings, thus earning the right to play the championship bracket of the tournament at Lola Meeks Memorial Field.
Monday at 5 p.m., the No. 1 seed Redskins (17-5, 10-2 MSAC) face fourth-seeded Parkersburg (4-4 MSAC) and second-seeded Cabell Midland (8-2) faces third-seeded Huntington (7-2).
Hurricane lost three consecutive games in mid-April, including an MSAC defeat to Parkersburg on April 22.
The consolation game is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Hurricane, while the championship is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Since the losing skid, the Redskins have won three straight conference games with their only loss being a 6-1 defeat to Rock Castle, Ky., at the Derby Classic in Boyd County on Friday.
“Sometimes you have to fail, you have to struggle, to find out what you’re made of,” Sutphin said during Sunday’s MSAC coaches’ meeting at George Washington High School.
Hurricane, which has won seven of its last eight games, is one of three teams from Region 4 in the MSAC’s final four, including the Knights and Highlanders.
Sutphin said it’s unlikely two of his top three pitchers — senior Austin Hensley and junior Trey Dawson — will see any innings in the tournament. Junior J.T. Rogoszewski could pitch, however.
Still, Rogoszewski and Hensley — Hurricane’s top two pitchers from last season — haven’t been as dominant as in 2013.
Rogoszewski finished his sophomore season with a 6-2 record and — more importantly — a 0.58 earned run average and 65 strikeouts. Hensley, a junior, was 5-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 48 strikeouts.
Entering Monday’s contest, Rogoszewski is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 28 strikeouts and Hensley is 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA and 28 strikeouts.
Sutphin said it’s no time for his team to panic.
“I feel like they’re both throwing well,” Sutphin said. “I know that they’re getting better. A lot of that stuff is needing so many outings. We put a lot of stock into statistics in baseball in general, but it takes a while to hit your groove. We’re not there yet. We’re not close to playing our best.”
As for Hurricane’s offense, the Redskins haven’t hit their stride in that area yet either.
They have three regulars batting over .350 with Dawson (.392), Alex Dunham (.362) and Brandon Pauley (.342).
Catcher Tate Brock is batting .321, but has made up for it on defense. In the Ed Carter Memorial Tournament is surrendered two stolen bases to Winfield speedster Brandon Wright, but threw him out on April 29 at Winfield. Wright is batting .450 with 22 stolen bases.
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ALL OF THE placement games are set for Monday, with former MSAC member Lincoln County added to give an even number of teams for the 15-team league.
Fifth place will be awarded to the winner of Capital and Nitro, being played at 6:30 p.m. at Brandon Matthew Sneed Field; Woodrow Wilson visits South Charleston’s Bryan-McElwain Field at 6 p.m. for seventh place; St. Albans travels to George Washington’s Wilcox Field for the ninth-place game at 6 p.m.; Winfield and Princeton play at Hunnicutt Field at 6 p.m. for 12th place; Ripley visits Riverside at 7 p.m. for 14th place and Spring Valley will travel to Lincoln County at 6 p.m. in search of 15th place.
The standings are determined on an eight-game MSAC schedule. Teams are awarded three points in their first meeting against fellow MSAC teams and one point for every first-game MSAC victory their opponent — that they’ve beaten — has. That number is then divided by the total number of games played to find their average and seed.
Ripley finished as the 14th seed, despite having four victories, which is one more than No. 11 Princeton, No. 12 Winfield and No. 13 Riverside.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail