www.charlestondailymail.com Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2015, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Nitro's Brewer signs with West Virginia State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529871 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529871 Wed, 20 May 2015 23:06:47 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Nitro baseball player Kip Brewer has signed a letter of intent to join the West Virginia State University baseball team.

Brewer, the winning pitcher in the Wildcats' 5-4 win over Logan in the Class AAA, Region 4, Section 2 championship game, is 4-3 on the season with a 1.73 ERA, striking out 59 against 16 walks. The left-hander also is batting .281 with 22 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.

]]>
Cardinal-Big 10 girls hoops pairings set http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529872 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529872 Wed, 20 May 2015 23:01:37 -0400 FROM STAFF REPORTS CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Class AA champion Sissonville will face North Marion in the featured game of the Cardinal/Big 10 Shootout girls’ basketball event Dec. 18 at the South Charleston Community Center.

The Indians, who defeated Fairmont Senior 50-47 in last season’s Class AA title game at the Charleston Civic Center, will meet the Huskies in a game scheduled for 8 p.m. in the shootout, which matches teams from the Cardinal Conference and Big 10 Conference.

The Polar Bears, who matched Sissonville’s final won-loss record last season at 24-3, will face Chapmanville at 6:30 p.m.

The first game pits Liberty (Harrison) against Independence at 8 a.m.

Teams will be provided with water and basketballs.

]]>
Hurricane wins sectional baseball crown http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529875 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529875 Wed, 20 May 2015 22:49:41 -0400 Prep baseball

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Senior right-hander J.T. Rogoszewski (8-0) tossed his second perfect game of the season to lead defending state champion Hurricane to a 3-0 win over visiting Lincoln County to win the Class AAA Region 4, Section 3 baseball title Wednesday.

Rogoszewski, a University of North Carolina signee, struck out nine with no walks in the mercy rule shortened, five-inning win.

West Virginia University signee Tate Brock provided the offensive fireworks for the Redskins (26-4) with a fifth inning grand slam, while finishing with five RBI. Keith Wilson had two hits and three RBI for Hurricane, while Garrett Gress and Chandler Kelly added two hits apiece. Kelly also knocked in a pair of runs.

Hurricane will travel to face Cabell Midland (15-16) in a Regional semifinal matchup scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m.

]]>
Poca blanks Sissonville for sectional championship http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529876 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529876 Wed, 20 May 2015 22:15:12 -0400 By Chris Wade Poca pitcher Brett Watts may not be the biggest in stature. He even described himself at '5-foot-6 tall at the most on a good day', but he certainly came up big for the Dots on Wednesday.

In a winner-take-all Game 3 for the Class AA Region 4, Section 2 championship, Watts pitched a complete game shutout for Poca, helping the Dots to a 3-0 victory at Sissonville.

With the victory, Poca improves to 12-18 and advances to the Regional semifinal against Herbert Hoover on Monday. Sissonville, which had been ranked most of the year in the Daily Mail poll, ended its season at 19-13.

The Indians had base runners in scoring position most of the evening but every time, the diminutive Watts shut the door and got out of trouble.

Watts scattered just four hits in the game and stranded eight base runners, including four in scoring position, three at third base.

"It is unbelievable," Watts said. "I can't believe it. It's the best feeling in the world to do that. I was nervous because in Game 1, I didn't throw very well. I threw 50 pitches and threw 100 exactly today. My arm feels fine. It doesn't make sense."

Poca coach Mike Hutchinson was impressed with Watts in such a pressure-filled spot. He said he wasn't even going to start Watts before some persuasion on Watts' part.

"That was awesome," Hutchinson said. "We were actually going to start somebody else but he sent me about 15 text messages today in all caps saying 'I want the ball' or some variation of that. He is our bulldog."

While Watts was shutting down Sissonville on the mound, the Poca offense got just enough, especially from Matt Chandler and Bubba Hill.

Chandler, who broke his hand earlier in the season and just returned for the sectionals, hit a towering two-run home run off Sissonville ace J.R. Stricklen in the fifth inning, giving Poca some much needed breathing room at 3-0.

"That was huge," said Hutchinson, of Chandler's home run. "In a one-run game, anything can happen, especially in Game 3 of the postseason. That gave us a little bit of a cushion and really pumped us up. I don't think there was any doubt in the dugout after that."

Hill, meanwhile, had four of the seven hits, stole two bases and scored two of the three runs. The Poca shortstop got his second hit of the day in the second inning and scored the first run of the game on Austin Henrich's RBI double.

For Sissonville, Austin Casto had two of the four hits with Stricklen and Ethan Lauchart getting one each. The Indians stranded the bases loaded in the second inning and a runner on third base in both the third and fourth innings.

The loss ended both the season and career of Stricklen, who pitched six innings to get the win in the first game Monday and came on in relief to throw four more innings Wednesday. He finished the season with a 9-0 record.

"If you are a fan of pure baseball and good defense, that was probably your game right there," Sissonville coach Steve Pickerell said. "They put the bat on the ball at the right time more than we did. We played well but Watts was excellent and just pitched a heck of a game.

"There was nobody we wanted at the end of the game probably more than J.R. He was and still is 9-0, and had a low ERA. He did a great job, won Game 1 for us, and just had one pitch he missed on."

]]>
Harrison, teammates have Buffalo boys on track title hunt http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529878 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529878 Wed, 20 May 2015 21:34:13 -0400

By NICK BROCKMAN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

Nothing heals the pain of losing like redemption, and that's exactly what Buffalo junior Hayden Harrison hopes to find in victory at this year's track and field state championships.

In the slimmest of margins, Harrison lost position in the final meters of his signature distance running events at last year's championship. The agony of defeat that once plagued Harrison now fans the fire to win.

"It was on my mind all through summer," Harrison said reflecting on his narrow state meet losses.

This season, Harrison has found himself on the positive end of close finishes. Twice, he has achieved victory by .05 seconds or less, beating his competitors now in the same fashion in which he lost last year.

"He's worked on that," Buffalo coach Richie Wyant said. "That was something he told me coming in, he said 'I'm not going to get beat at the end anymore.'"

At last year's state meet, Doddridge County's Hunter Riffle twice narrowly beat Harrison. In the 3200, Riffle won by .45 seconds, while in the 1600, Wirt County's Glenn McMillan took first in 4:32.11, with Riffle in second at 4:32.53 and Harrison third at 4:33.55.

Harrison now knows the winning side of those tight finishes. At Winfield's Dick Dunlap Classic this season, Harrison edged Hurricane's Jake Henley by .01 seconds for first place.

"I broke our school record at Winfield," Harrison said. "Me and Jake Henley were right next to each other and I beat him by the wind in my jersey."

With Harrison and a full complement of athletes, Buffalo won its regional and remains a top Class A threat this season after finishing as state runner-up last year.

Beyond Harrison, Buffalo features depth at the distance events in Devin Rich and WVU Tech signee Jon Wileman. Senior Jordan Tucker, also a WVU Tech commit and 100-meter and 200 defending champion, highlights the team's sprint core, along with Dylan Lucas. Ian Parsons and Ty Smith rank among the state's best in hurdles, while Drake Fertig (pole vault), and Jacob Easton, Nick Parsons and Hunter Allen, all throwing events, will look to provide points. Buffalo also qualified each of its five relay teams.

Third-ranked Buffalo should expect its top competition for the team title from regional foes Williamstown, Doddridge and Wirt County, ranked first, second and fourth respectively, as well as No. 5 South Harrison.

Charleston Catholic's Greg Hart and Justin Snyder will compete individually in the 800.

Class AA

Poca senior Christian Buckley, West Virginia's reigning Track and Field Gatorade Athlete of the Year, will look to add his third consecutive titles in both the shot put and discus.

At the Region 4 championship, Buckley broke his own all-time discus state record with a throw of 186-09, and he'll look to establish a new best mark again at state.

"Every year, his whole career, he seems to do better at the state meet than he's done all year, so he's kind of a gamer," Dots coach John Bonecutter said of Buckley, who has committed to the University of Louisville.

In addition to Buckley, Poca expects points in the throws from sophomore Chase Dotson.

Hayden Webb, Trevor Landers and Hank Larch are also expected to produce points in the long jump, with Shawn Arthur in high jump.

With top-end production in throws and jumps, Poca should be among top teams, alongside No. 1 Roane County, second-ranked Ritchie County and defending champ Bridgeport.

Scott's Zack Marcum, a University of Charleston signee, will lead the ninth-ranked Skyhawks. Marcum enters the meet as the top-ranked runner in the 200 and second in the 400 and 300 hurdles.

Class AAA

Several teams figure to be in the mix for the boys title, including Cabell Midland, Hurricane, George Washington and Winfield, ranked second through fifth, respectively.

"There's a lot of parity on the men's side," Redskins coach Jason Henley said. "There's a lot of room for about five different teams to be able to do things."

The Knights enter as the Valley's top-ranked boys team, led by a strong distance core and talented field specialists Nick Molina (pole vault) and Hunter Hicks (throws).

Daniel Jarrell represents the team's top mid-distance runner as he'll be a contender to win the 400 and contribute on several relays. Midland qualified three runners in the 800 in Will Sheils, Jeremiah Parlock and Nick Salmons. Parlock and Salmons finished one-two in the 1600 at regionals, while Jonathan Hathaway and Josh Minor will represent the Knights in the 3200.

Like Midland, Hurricane qualified three in the 800, in Jacob Harmon, Conner Fowler and Alex Hughes. Hughes and teammate Jake Henley will race in the 1600. Henley, a Wheeling Jesuit commit, will also run in the 3200.

Redskins senior sprinter Jared Zickafoose, who ranks first statewide in the 100 and fourth in the 200, leads the Hurricane sprinting core. Fellow Redskins sprinters James McDougale and Brandon Howard also qualified in the 100.

Senior Will Walker leads GW as the state's No. 1 rated 300 hurdler. Walker also ranks among the top three in the 110 hurdles and 400. In addition to Walker's contributions, the Patriots expect plenty of points from their trio of throwers in Nick Peyatte, David Smith and Trevor Patton.

Winfield will look to benefit from field specialist Christian Smith, who ranks among the state's best in high jump, pole vault and long jump. Michael Null also qualified in pole vault, as well as both hurdles events. Noah Julian will compete in both throwing events.

In sprints, Generals Evan Fairchild, Ryan Daly and John Hathaway pose as All-State threats. After winning the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 at regional, Winfield will also look to produce many points in sprint relays.

Beyond the Valley's best teams, top-ranked Parkersburg South and defending champ Parkersburg will also be viable title contenders, among others.

Other expected top individual Kanawha Valley athletes include two-time defending champ Tristan Slater, a Capital junior, who will look to secure his third straight title and potentially a new state record. Slater, who has cleared 16-7 this season, will set his sights at 17-1. Slater will also compete individually in the 100 and long jump.

The Cougars feature plenty of point potential in in middle distance and distance events, too, with Geandre Jones (800), Concord commit Michael Ruhnke (800, 1600), Sam Thomas (1600), Ethan Reed (3200) and Joe Schwartz (3200). James Knox will run the 110 hurdles.

Riverside senior Darius Booker ranks first statewide in the 200. He did not qualify in the 100 after a false start at the Region 3 championship. Warrior distance runner Nick Kennedy will compete in the 1600.

Antonio Jones, a Concord signee, will lead Ripley after qualifying individually in both the 400 and 800.

South Charleston's Josh Greear will compete in the 3200.

Nitro's Luke Nichols will be among top contenders in the high jump.

]]>
Charleston Catholic tops Buffalo to win baseball sectional http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529879 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529879 Wed, 20 May 2015 21:30:34 -0400 By Tom Bragg HUNTINGTON - Buffalo forced Wednesday's Class A Region 4, Section 4 championship game by limiting what Charleston Catholic could do at the plate on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, however, the Irish bats were back in a big way.

Charleston Catholic jumped on the Bison early on its way to a 13-2 win in five innings at Smailes Field for the sectional title and a spot in Monday's Class A Region 4 semifinals against Wahama. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at University of Charleston's Triana Field.

The Irish (20-14) tagged Buffalo starting pitcher Beau Whittington for seven runs in the first inning, aided in part by some confusion from Bison catcher Connor Fields on a dropped third strike that could have ended the inning.

"Sophomore mistakes," Buffalo coach Jimmy Tribble said of his catcher's miscue. "(Catholic) came out and tattooed the baseball. They deserved to win and I hope they do well and win the whole thing."

Buffalo (20-13) opened its half of the second inning with a lead-off home run by center fielder Brandon Buntura that went into the teeth of a sharp wind blowing in to left field from the Ohio River.

Whittington started the second inning but was pulled in favor of Ian O'Donnell after allowing Catholic's first two batters of the inning - Sam McKown and David Hamilton - to reach base (both would later score).

Catholic had big innings against Whittington in both of its sectional wins against the Bison after having not faced him in the team's two regular season meeting. The Irish had also not faced Tuesday's starter Nick Whittington prior to the postseason.

"Jimmy chose not to pitch him against us in the regular season," Catholic coach Bill Mehle said. "I know coach Tribble, we've been competing against each other for many years, so we knew coming into the post season we would be facing a different Buffalo club with those two guys (Beau and Nick Whittington) on the mound."

The Irish got to O'Donnell for four runs in the third before the Bison brought Buntura in to get out of the inning. Buffalo added a run in the fourth, but Irish pitcher Alex Belcher limited the damage, sending Catholic to the regional semifinals for the first time since winning the Class A title in 2013. Belcher finished the game with three strikeouts while allowing two walks and six Buffalo hits.

Mehle said Belcher's ability to bounce back after allowing the home run to Buntura went a long way toward helping the Irish win Wednesday.

"Alex was able to come back and we were able to get out of that inning with the bases loaded only giving up one run," Mehle said. "I thought that was a huge competitive victory for Alex not to cave in after giving up a lead-off home run like that."

The future appears bright for Buffalo (20-13). The Bison lose just two seniors (Beau Whittington and Buntura) off this season's team that started five sophomores and two freshmen much of the time.

"I don't think anybody gave these kids a chance to win 20 games," Tribble said. "When I looked at our schedule I thought we could win maybe seven or eight. They got a little confidence and started playing, and we're still learning the game."

For Catholic, senior Jordan Covelli went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Teammate Trae Swisher, a sophomore, went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a stolen base and an RBI while McKown finished 2 for 4 with three stolen bases and three runs scored. Catholic had 11 hits Wednesday.

"(McKown) will be the first to tell you these last few games he has struggled at the plate," Mehle said. "He's hit a lot of 'at 'em balls,' which is frustrating, and he hasn't always gone after the best pitch in a sequence. He's one of our best hitters and brings senior leadership. He just could not be stopped today."

The Irish are going for their third win over the White Falcons on Monday. Catholic beat Wahama 1-0 and 9-0 in the team's two regular season meetings.

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

]]>
Hurricane on upset alert as Logan visits for regional title game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529880 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529880 Wed, 20 May 2015 21:26:30 -0400 By Derek Taylor Josh Caldwell didn't wait long to give a history lesson to his Hurricane softball team after the Redskins' Class AAA Region 4 semifinal win last week.

"Remember, the year that we won it we killed St. Albans twice in the regular season," Caldwell said of the Redskins' Region 4 final opponent in 2013, when Hurricane eventually won its first state title in the sport.

"What was the score of the regional final? It was 2-0. It was 0-0 when we went into a two-hour rain delay in the sixth inning. Whoever we play in the final, they're going to be ready. It's not going to be easy," Caldwell said.

A history teacher by day, Caldwell is well-equipped to call on such past events to keep his team focused when necessary. As a softball coach, Caldwell is well aware he might have the most volatile batting order in the state as the Redskins (33-2) prepare to host Logan (19-11) in the Region 4 title game at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Hurricane is one of four Kanawha Valley teams that will play in regional finals Thursday with a bid in next week's state tournament up for grabs. Class AAA South Charleston (25-9) plays host to Shady Spring (19-11) in the Region 3 final, Class AA Sissonville (24-5) plays at Chapmanville (21-9) and four-time defending Class A state champion Buffalo (28-6) hosts to Williamstown (14-11) in Region 4 title games in their respective classes. All games are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with the exception of the Williamstown-Buffalo contest, which will start at 5:30 p.m.

A recent tweak to its batting order could make Hurricane's offense even more potent, as junior first baseman Maddie Hebb has climbed to the No. 6 spot and sophomore Katie Adams to No. 7 with senior third baseman/pitcher Emily Davis sliding down to No. 8. The bottom third of the Redskins' lineup has continually been a strong source of run production in recent seasons, with 2015 being no different.

"If you look at the RBIs and runs, a lot of them come from that part of the order," Caldwell said. "We're solid all the way through, and that makes it hard on anybody to try to pitch to us."

Hebb entered the week with a .454 average, six home runs, 12 doubles and 39 RBI. She supplies a second jump-start to the offense as it approaches the bottom, whereas leadoff hitter and senior second baseman Madison Casto leads the Redskins with a .504 average. Freshman Jayme Bailey hits second and has eight homers and 43 RBI to go along with a .419 average.

Senior shortstop Cassi Sargent has got hot at the plate again recently and is at .406 with 14 doubles and 36 RBI while cleanup hitter and 2013 state Player of the Year Courtney Rogers has seven homers and 44 RBI to go with a .400 average.

Hurricane met Logan just once in the regular season, with the Redskins scratching out a 3-2 win on the road on April 18.

Elsewhere, Buffalo's Ali Burdette threw a no-hitter against Williamstown in the Bison's 8-0 win that gave them the Region 4 title last year in Wood County. While such an accomplishment is perhaps unrealistic to expect in any game, Burdette has been somehow more impressive in 2015, and is coming off a no-hitter against Wahama in the Region 4 semifinals in a 15-0 win last week. Buffalo beat Williamstown 8-0 in their only meeting this season, on March 23.

The Marshall signee is 21-1 with 210 strikeouts in 130 innings this season and carries a 0.43 ERA into the title game. Burdette is also the area's top offensive producer this season, with a .649 batting average, nine homers, 46 RBI, 15 doubles, three triples and 17 stolen bases against a schedule that is more challenging than those of many Class AA schools.

Of the 30 games Buffalo played in the regular season, 14 came against Class AA and Class AAA opponents, and 10 of those opponents won sectional championships. The Bison are 6-4 in such matchups, and are 19-1 against Class A teams this season, their lone loss coming to Sherman on March 30 without Burdette in the circle.

The title game between the Yellowjackets and Bison will be played on Field 2 at Buffalo, as the Bison's turf-field is not approved by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission for postseason play. Still, Buffalo coach Darrell Moore maintains the turf has been a key element of his program's recent run of dominance in Class A.

"It lets us practice on a field every day," Moore said. "Especially early in the season when the weather's bad, we always get to practice outside. That's a huge benefit. We just don't miss practice. A lot of people don't realize how important that's been in the last few years, how big of a difference-maker it is in preparation."

Sissonville finds itself one win away from its first state tournament berth since 2002, which was current South Charleston coach Annette Olenchick's last season at Sissonville before moving on to coach at the University of Charleston.

Nikki Gross has coached the Indians since 2011, and with junior third baseman/pitcher Alexee Haynes and junior shortstop Karli Pinkerton and freshman pitcher Kendal Parkins leading the charge the team is on the doorstep of breaking its state tournament drought.

"I hope we keep hitting like we have been," Gross said in an email in reference to facing the Tigers, a team Sissonville split with in the regular season.

Chapmanville won 9-1 at home on March 30, with Sissonville avenging that loss with a 6-0 win at home on April 9. The Indians ousted 2014 state champion Herbert Hoover in the Region 4 semis with a 7-3 win last week.

Haynes leads the Indians with a .525 average, four homers, 37 RBI, 12 doubles and three triples. The Pitt commitment has recently equaled Parkins' win total in the circle as well, and is 11-2 with a 1.86 ERA and 84 strikeouts.

Parkins is 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 70 strikeouts, which gives Gross and the Indians a solid selection of arms to use against the Tigers.

Olenchick, meanwhile, can see the end of a drought herself should the Black Eagles get past Shady Spring. South Charleston has not been to the state tournament since 2008, when it fell to Huntington in the state title game.

Freshman shortstop/pitcher Kiersten Landers leads SC with a .583 average, with junior left fielder Olivia Orcutt-Lazo hitting .471, 11 triples and 39 RBI. Landers has seven homers, five triples, 26 RBI and 22 stolen bases from her leadoff spot in the batting order. Junior pitcher Amanda McDonald is 16-6 with a 2.53 ERA and 186 strikeouts.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.

]]>
Power's Luplow gets comfortable at third base http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529881 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529881 Wed, 20 May 2015 21:23:43 -0400 By Derek Redd For much of his baseball career, Jordan Luplow was an outfielder, and a darned good one at that.

He was the 2014 Mountain West player of the year at Fresno State and a second-team selection on three all-America lists. But the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, which drafted Luplow in the third round last season, felt he could help in other areas.

Now Luplow mans third base for the West Virginia Power, which opens a four-game homestand against the Delmarva Shorebirds at 7:05 p.m. Thursday. Getting comfortable there, he said, has been a work in progress.

"I'm still getting the kinks out and getting used to it," Luplow said. "It's a lot faster than high school, obviously, at the professional level. It's just working every day, early work, and just trusting what you do in early work and putting it into game situations."

When Luplow began his professional career last year with the short-season Jamestown Jammers, his collegiate success in the outfield carried over. On top of batting .277 with 12 doubles and six home runs, he also recorded 17 outfield assists over 58 games.

"Last year, he was good at cutting balls off in the gap and throwing people out at second," said Power manager Brian Esposito, who managed Luplow in Jamestown last season. "He was good at playing things off the wall and throwing people out trying to advance."

Early in spring training this year, coaches asked Luplow to move to third. He hadn't played the position since high school, but was more than willing to make the change. Luplow said it wasn't just the overall speed of the pro game that he had to get used to.

"It's a different animal," he said of playing third. "Outfield, you have a little more time to react. In the infield, you've got to be quick. I'm just trying to be athletic over there and make as many plays as I can. Make the routine, routine."

Much of Luplow's work comes in improving the consistency of his positioning. He's tied for the team lead with eight errors. He's trying to keep things simple during games, while spending practices working on some more minute aspects of the position.

"It takes a lot of reps," Esposito said. "It's like anything else. You move into unfamiliar territory and it's going to take you a while."

On top of the transition to the infield, he's also struggled at the plate over the past few games. He was batting .271 as of May 1, but that average dipped to .225 as of Wednesday. Yet, in West Virginia's series-closing 3-1 win over Hickory on Wednesday, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder hit his team-leading ninth double of the year. It was a welcome sight for his second game back after dislocating a finger at Hagerstown on Saturday and missing two games. He's been the team's designated hitter the last two games.

The Power took two of three from the Crawdads, who lead the South Atlantic League's Northern Division. West Virginia is in second in the north, right in front of third-place Delmarva.

Luplow would love to help keep the Power ahead of the Shorebirds while growing into his new role.

"I'm here with the Pirates organization and I'm going to do what's best for the organization," Luplow said. "And if that gets me to move up to the big leagues and help them win ball games, then that's what I'm going to do."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
Mike Casazza: College hoops overhaul has influences outside NBA http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529882 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150520/DM03/150529882 Wed, 20 May 2015 21:22:27 -0400 MORGANTOWN - Somewhere along the line, college basketball will find a way to remember, embrace and champion college basketball. For now, it seems disparate desires pull the game in different directions.

The NCAA makes it clear that status quo isn't good enough. That's fine, because there are roadblocks on the path to progress, and someone needs to put hands on the obstructions and move them to the side.

It's hard to forge bonds with teams when players spend one year on campus before jumping to the NBA or when something like 40 percent of those who do remain in the college game end up transferring. You can fix that by presenting a better product, but it's been a long time since scoring has been as shaky, or as difficult, as it has been in recent years. It would be unfair to compare televised games to marathons, because marathons are quicker and sometimes more exciting.

We'll have to live with the whims of players who want to play professionally or play somewhere else. That's the new normal, and the legislation makes it perfectly acceptable, but the same rulebook is trying to bend to handle on some of the variables that make college basketball easier to enjoy. It's just going about it in a really unusual manner. The NCAA isn't doing things its own way. It's mimicking the ways of others while taking conflicting routes.

Check out what's happened lately. Included on a list of ideas is a proposal to shorten the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30. The NBA plays with 24 seconds. The NCAA is moving the arc under the basket out a foot so it's four feet away from the shadow of the rim. That's the NBA distance.

Shortening the shot clock should increase the number of possessions, escalate the pace and elevate point totals. Extending the arc brings post defenders into play quicker and reduces what can be displeasing back-a-defender-down offense. In short, it's supposed to make college more closely resemble the NBA.

This is a pattern, going as far back as pulling the 3-point line out in 2008 so it was a foot closer to the NBA line, and it's going to continue. There were discussions about copying the NBA and moving the ball to mid-court after timeouts. If the proposed suggestions are approved next month, officials will have the authority to penalize delays after stoppages in play by doing like NBA officials and awarding one-shot technical fouls.

This all has the attention of college coaches and administrators who wonder when college fans will flock to the NBA game with superior players and similar setups.

Yet when the rules committee came together to suggest new rules, there was a feeling the NBA wasn't the sole model. The people left the room sensing strong indications the NCAA is eyeballing the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The markings on the court, the way the game is timed, that has an NBA influence. But the way the game is played inside those marks and within the time constraints, that has a FIBA influence.

College basketball is trying to achieve and secure a free-flowing style of play where players with and without the ball can move without restrictions, where offenses are enabled to operate with ease and speed, where teams can play like international clubs. The NCAA will do many things to pursue this, like having officials call more fouls for contact on the perimeter, though this started in the middle of last season. In the Big 12, in-season memos made their way to teams that sought to prevent contact and really seemed to target WVU and its press - though officials were also encouraged to watch for players traveling out of traps, too.

The big ideas to facilitate offense are shortening the shot clock and extending the arc under the basket - and neither is exclusive property of the NBA. FIBA uses a 24-second clock and positions its arch 1.5 meters from the hoop, which is a little more than four feet.

It's more than a response to the suggestion the international game is more fun to coach, play and watch. It's a nod to the idea international players are more skilled. Moving the arc back diminishes the value of low post play, and that's one reason tall players from overseas are so often skilled shooters. Expediting possessions demands more movement from the ball and players as well as more immediate offense, which is the essence of free-flowing play.

It's asking more from players to get more from the game, but there's a big inconsistency with the expectation. America has high schools and AAU programs. Either one has a few weeks of practice before a schedule that features a bunch of games and infrequent interruptions for practice. Europe doesn't have much of a high school system but has academies and clubs that pluck players from schools and instruct them all year.

Of course one group is going to develop quicker or more dramatically than another, but there's no reason to envision the United States copying that model, no matter how much domestic soccer has benefited from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for almost a decade now. The NCAA can't legislate that change, much like it can't control an age limit in the NBA, which only magnifies the need for the college brand to solve itself sooner rather than later.

]]>
WVU opens Big 12 baseball tourney today vs. Oklahoma State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519150 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519150 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:58:08 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The last time West Virginia's baseball team played Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers left uncertain about where they were going. They beat the Cowboys in the opener of a three-game series but had the final two games canceled by weather. The road win against a team ranked No. 11 was useful for a squad trying to make the Big 12 tournament, but missing two games meant missing out on more opportunities to finish in the top eight of the nine-team league.

That delivered WVU to its final series of the season this past weekend needing to win two out of three against Texas Tech to avoid a ninth-place finish an exclusion from this week's event in Tulsa, Okla.

"The mentality was, 'Don't let us in the tournament. Don't let us in the tournament,'" Mountaineers coach Randy Mazey said. "Who knows what can happen? If this team we've got here gets hot at the right time, we're very capable of scoring a lot of runs against really quality pitching. If we're not giving up too many hits against quality hitting, when our backs are against the wall, we come out fighting, which is a sign of character." WVU won the fist two games against the Red Raiders and finished in seventh place in the final standings despite a loss in the regular-season finale. The Mountaineers open the Big 12 tournament at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday against Oklahoma State. The outcome this time will give WVU a much better idea of what's next in the double-elimination championship televised on Fox College Sports.

The Mountaineers won seven in a row and nine out of 10 at one point this season and later lost six straight and eight out of 10. They were nine games above .500 (21-12) after winning all three games against Butler in the first series at Monongalia County Ballpark but dropped to a game above .500 (24-23) after losing on the road at Virginia Tech.

Three wins in the final four Big 12 games and avoiding an all-or-nothing occasion Saturday on Senior Day against Texas Tech has rejuvenated the Mountaineers, who only have four seniors on the roster.

"The fact we've beaten every team in the league, other than TCU, gives us a lot of confidence going into it," Mazey said. "We know we can beat everybody, and it's hard for one team to beat another team four times in one year. I like our chances. We've got just enough pitching, I think, to go down there and, if we pitch well enough, get though this thing. Obviously, we're very capable offensively, and if we play like we did this weekend, who knows what can happen?"

The Mountaineers (27-25) finished sixth in the conference in batting average (.268) and led the way in home runs (49) and extra-base hits (156) and tied with Oklahoma State for the lead in slugging percentage (.414). Shortstop Taylor Munden led the Big 12 with 11 home runs. Second baseman Kyle Davis was third in batting average (.353). First baseman Jackson Cramer was third in home runs (eight), fourth in doubles (15) and sixth in slugging percentage (.532). Each was named second-team all-conference Tuesday, and Davis made the league's all-freshman team, where he was joined by starting pitcher B.J. Myers.

Additionally, starting pitchers Chad Donato and Ross Vance, relief pitcher Blake Smith and third baseman Justin Fox were named honorable mention all-Big 12.

The Mountaineers totaled 14 runs in the first two games against Texas Tech - and stranded nine runners in an 8-2 loss in the final game - after totaling 15 runs in the prior six games. That slide started with a three-game sweep by TCU when WVU was outscored 20-6.

"We talk about any time we mention the word pressure in practice or anywhere in our program, we say that's how you describe air in tires - it doesn't have anything to do with baseball," Mazey said. "Baseball's supposed to be fun, so come out here and have a good time. The fact we've really picked up our offense and the tempo of our offense has given our guys a little freedom at home plate to do some things. I think they're having a lot more fun standing in the batter's box knowing we're really trying to press the issue."

Should the Mountaineers win, they advance to an 8 p.m. game Thursday against either the No. 3 seed Kansas State or the No. 6 seed Oklahoma. WVU won two of three at Kansas State and lost two of three at home against Oklahoma during the season. A loss tonight sets up an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. against the Wildcats or Sooners.

WVU was 1-2 in the tournament last season after going 27-24 in the regular season.

"We went into the season with so many question marks on the mound where we thought if we could go .500 and get into the conference tournament, we'd be having a great season," Mazey said. "I thought about that very thing the other day, where if we had a good weekend we could have the same record we had last year, when we were a really talented, older team with a lot of experience. This team is overachieving, but I'm really, really happy with how we've played."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

]]>
Chuck McGill: NBA interest in Staten spikes with workouts http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519151 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519151 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:56:36 -0400 By Chuck McGill CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Juwan Staten sat in a Philadelphia airport Monday evening awaiting his delayed flight. He didn't mind. It was where his journey took him earlier in the day that mattered.

Staten, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound point guard who starred for three seasons at West Virginia University, worked out for the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday morning. He and four other NBA hopefuls participated in the 90-minute session at the 76ers' practice facility in front of coaches, front office personnel and scouts.

Staten is far from finished. He has 12 confirmed workouts for teams leading up to the June 25 NBA draft in Brooklyn, N.Y. At least three other teams are trying to line up schedules with the Dayton, Ohio native. He said he'll do whatever it takes to prove he belongs in this league.

"This is something I've always wanted," Staten said. "This is the dream, so I'm going to go for it with everything I got."

A busy schedule awaits. He is slated to visit Houston to work out for the Rockets next week, although the Western Conference finals could dictate when that visit occurs. He'll hustle to Oklahoma City for a session with the Thunder, and then he'll be in Phoenix with the Suns later this month. Visits to Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and Minnesapolis are scheduled for June. He'll make the L.A. trip a two-day stay and visit with the Lakers and Clippers back-to-back.

The schedule will only become more cluttered as more teams express interest in working out Staten before the draft.

"I got good feedback from Philadelphia," he said. "I felt I had a pretty good workout, but it's too early to tell anything. The fact that I have so many workouts lined up lets me know the interest is there."

Since his collegiate career ended in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen on March 26, Staten has been preparing for a professional basketball career. He headed to Las Vegas to train at Impact Basketball for one month. The renowned training facility has worked with NBA players like John Wall, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett, Ricky Rubio and Jerome Jordan, among hundreds of others. Devin Ebanks and Joe Alexander are former WVU players with ties to the facility.

Staten said his time there helped prepare him for the individual drills of the 76ers workout, plus 3-on-3 and 1-on-1 situations. He has no lingering effects from his senior season, which concluded with three NCAA tournament games in seven days and a 14-point effort against No. 1 Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.

The 22-year-old missed the last three regular season games and WVU's Big 12 tournament loss with left knee and groin ailments. He bounced back to play at least 33 minutes in all three NCAA tournament games.

"I feel great; my body felt good in the workout," he said. "I'm typically a well-conditioned athlete, but you never know what to expect. Once I got in there, I was good."

Staten is confident, but his draft prospects are a mystery. His name isn't one that surfaces on most mock drafts or pre-draft rankings lists, even though he was one of the nation's top point guards at WVU. Staten appeared on consecutive all-Big 12 and conference defensive teams his final two years with the Mountaineers, and he finished as one of four players in WVU history with 1,200 points, 400 assists and 100 steals for a career.

Staten did that in three seasons after playing the 2010-11 season at Dayton.

One knock on Staten seems to be his size, but that hasn't stopped diminutive point guards from flourishing in the NBA. A point guard Staten watches and emulates, Chris Paul, is 6 feet tall. A retired player Staten grew up idolizing is Allen Iverson, who was listed at 6-0. A former player for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, Nick Van Exel, was listed at 6-1.

When Staten turns on his television to watch an NBA game, he searches for players like Paul, Jeff Teague and Mike Conley so he can "study them."

"I always look at smaller players and I try to take something from each and every one of them," Staten said. "I'm definitely going through that process right now, doing whatever a general manager might like that can get me in the door."

Staten feels he has shown he can play in the NBA when he has faced pro-caliber talent on the court. He remembers facing players like Austin Rivers, Brandon Knight, Kendall Marshall and Marcus Smart. He played on the same AAU team as Adrien Payne and Jared Sullinger.

"The list goes on and on," he said, "and I've held my own against everybody."

He stays in contact with his pro hoops friends, and they tell him he has a future in their league.

"I know my game," he said. "It's game that I've studied my whole life. A lot of guys I have played against my whole life are in the NBA."

If Staten isn't one of the 60 names called in next month's draft, he can latch on with a team as an undrafted free agent and open eyes in the NBA's Summer League. But with one workout done and more than a dozen on the horizon, Staten believes a team will find a spot for him.

It's why he proudly tweeted a photo on himself inside the 76ers locker room wearing a white Sixers practice jersey. He believes this tour of NBA cities won't be his last.

"I feel like I will get drafted," he said. "I feel like I've proved I belong and I'm still proving myself with all these workouts. I do think I'll get drafted. If not, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make the most of any opportunity ... I'll prove myself."

]]>
Walk-off hit lifts Nitro past Logan for baseball sectional title http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519152 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519152 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:56:13 -0400 By Derek Redd CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The third baseman who had been looking for a hit all game finally got one, and drove home the backup catcher, a guy who hadn't played the position all year until the fourth inning of his previous game.

And with that, the Nitro High School baseball team beat Logan, 5-4, at Nitro on Tuesday to win the Class AAA Region 4, Section 2 championship.

Eddie Flores' two-out, walk-off base hit scored Matt Harrison and short circuited what was a furious seventh-inning Logan rally. Now Nitro (22-8) gets to host Point Pleasant on Monday in the regional semifinals.

Logan (23-7) nearly did to Nitro on Tuesday what Nitro did to Logan on Monday - recover from a deficit to shock the home team.

"A lot of credit goes to our kids, especially our pitching staff," Nitro coach Steve Pritchard said. "(Logan) applied pressure the entire tournament against us, 19 out of 21 innings. For us to keep them down to a total of 11 runs over 21 innings is pretty good. It says a lot about our team."

Nitro nearly succumbed to the pressure in the top of the seventh. Six strong innings from Nitro starter Kipp Brewer allowed Nitro to enjoy a 4-1 lead over Logan, and Pritchard let Brewer try to finish out the game on the mound. He walked the first two batters he saw that inning and Pritchard relieved him with freshman ace Levi Kelly, who already has verbally committed to LSU.

But Kelly walked the two batters he faced, bringing in a run with that second walk, which ended Kelly's night on the mound and moved Flores over to pitch. Then an errant throw to first allowed two more Logan runs to score and tie the game at 4-4.

Nitro rallied with two down in the bottom of the seventh, Harrison reaching first on a fielder's choice, stealing his third base of the game, then sprinting home when Flores poked a hit past Logan first baseman Alex Toler.

"My first walk-off hit after three years of being here?" Flores said. "That's a whole different story. We just came back like we always do, like the old Nitro teams did. Do anything to win."

Tuesday was the rubber match of the three-game Logan-Nitro sectional battle. Logan took the first game in Nitro, 4-1, but Nitro retaliated at Logan, clawing out a 5-3 victory.

While some thought Tuesday's game would feature a Game 1 pitching rematch between Logan ace Zach Minnick and Nitro star Kelly, Pritchard instead put Brewer on the mound to start the contest, with Kelly in center field. Harrison started at catcher for Nitro after usual starter Matt Jewell was ejected from Monday's game in the fourth inning.

Brewer struck out eight over six innings, allowing just four hits and walking five. After a Connor Akers RBI single in the second, Logan didn't score again until the seventh.

"He was strong," Pritchard said of Brewer. "He was good. He threw exactly how and where we wanted him to throw all night. He did an excellent job."

Pritchard also praised Harrison, a junior who hadn't caught since he was a freshman. He's played nearly everywhere else for Nitro this season, and Nitro coaches weren't worried about putting him behind the plate. He also hurt Logan on the basepaths, scoring two of Nitro's runs.

"We needed it, so I did everything I could to get it," Harrison said. "I could run on that catcher and I did earlier in that game. I trusted myself and I went for it."

Nitro opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Harrison, who ended the top of the first by throwing out Minnick as he tried to steal second, jogged to first after being hit by a Minnick pitch. He stole second, moved to third on a fielder's choice ground out and came home on Andrew Stone's sacrifice fly.

Logan responded in the top of the second with Akers' RBI single.

Nitro scored a pair of unearned runs in the fifth. With runners on second and third, Matt Harrison grounded to third baseman Chase Burnette, but Burnette's throw to first bounced low and sailed away, allowing Kelly and Jason Douglas to cross home.

"That finds a way of coming back and hurting you," Logan coach Roger Gertz said of his team's errors, "and it did today."

Nitro scored on another error in the sixth. Minnick pitched the entire game for Logan, striking out five, walking three and giving up four hits, taking a no-hitter into the fifth.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

]]>
Box scores and statistics from Tuesday's baseball and softball games http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519153 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519153 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:55:57 -0400 Baseball

Class A Region 4, Section 4

At George T. Smailes, Sr. Field

BUFFALO 2, CHARLESTON CATHOLIC 1

Charleston Catholic 001 000 0 - 1 2 2

Buffalo 000 100 1 - 2 3 0

Catholic: Dominic Marsico, Jordan Covelli (7) and David Hamilton; Buffalo: Nick Whittington and Connor Fields.

WP - Whittington (7-3; 2K, 3BB); LP - Marsico (2-2; 3K, 4BB)

Hitting: Catholic - Luke McKown 2-3; Trae Swisher RBI; Buffalo - Dillon Williams RBI; Whittington GW RBI.

Records: Catholic (19-14), Buffalo (20-12).

Class AAA Region 3, Section 3

SOUTH CHARLESTON 3, GEORGE WASHINGTON 1

South Charleston 000 102 0 - 3 3 0

George Washington 000 010 0 - 1 4 0

SC: Jared Hill and Cole Lanier; GW: Druw Bowen and Connor Moffatt.

WP - Hill (7.0 IP, R, ER, 4 H, 7 K, 4 BB); LP - Bowen (7.0 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 H, 6 K, 4 BB).

Hitting: SC - Antonio Brown HR, 2RBI; Michael Lore RBI; GW - Joshua Petit 2B, RBI.

Records: SC (25-5).

Class AA Region 4, Section 2

POCA 9, SISSONVILLE 3

Sissonville 200 100 0 - 3 4 5

Poca 000 441 x - 9 7 1

Zac Boggess, Trent Bodnard (5) Austin Casto (6) and Cade Snyder; Austin Henrich and Ricci Sovilla.

WP - Henrich (7 IP, 3 K, 1 BB); LP - Boggess.

Hitting: Sissonville - Ethan Lauchart 2B, RBI; Houston HIll RBI; Poca - Matt Chandler 3-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Carson Cottrill RBI; Brandon Payne 2B, 2 RBI.

Records: Sissonville (19-12), Poca (11-18).

Class AAA, Region 4, Section 2

NITRO 5, LOGAN 4

Logan 010 000 3 - 4 4 2

Nitro 100 021 1 - 5 4 3

Zach Minnick and Ryan Holstein. Kipp Brewer, Levi Kelly (7), Eddie Flores (7) and Matt Harrison.

Hitting: Logan - Zach Minnich 2-4; Nitro - Andrew Stone RBI, Eddie Flores RBI.

Records: Nitro (22-8), Logan (23-7).

Softball

HURRICANE 5, CHAPMANVILLE 1

Chapmanville 000 000 1 - 1 8 3

Hurricane 302 000 x - 5 8 2

Chap: Kanzie McCain and Savannah Wiley; Hur: Courtney Rogers, Emily Davis (7) and Katie Adams.

WP - Rogers (6 1/3 IP, R, ER, 9 H, 4 K, BB); LP - McCain (6 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 2 K, 3 BB); SV - Davis.

Hitting: Chap - McCain 3-4, Holli Carter RBI; Hur - Rogers HR, 2RBI; Amber Null 2B, RBI; Adams RBI; Jayme Bailey RBI; Cassi Sargent 2B.

Records: Chap (21-9), Hur (33-2).

]]>
Poca tops Sissonville to force decisive sectional baseball game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519154 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519154 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:53:30 -0400 By Chris Wade CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Sissonville looked to possibly be on its way to a sectional baseball title, leading by three runs with pitcher Zac Boggess throwing a no-hitter through three innings at home against Poca on Tuesday night.

However, the wheels fell for the Indians as the Dots stormed back to score nine unanswered runs and stave off elimination by earning a 9-3 victory at Sissonville in Class AA Region 4, section 2 play.

With the victory, Poca improves to 11-18 and ties the series at 1-1 and forces a third and deciding game Wednesday, also at Sissonville (19-12).

"This is the potential we have had all year," Poca coach Mike Hutchinson said. "Hopefully we can we can carry the momentum over until (Wednesday). We just haven't had a chance to put it all together. We have had guys hurt all year and haven't been at full force."

Poca got some timely hitting, but was also aided by Sissonville as the Indians defense committed five errors. Sissonville pitchers issued four walks and hit three batters.

"We came out and noticed they were a little lackadaisical before the game," Sissonville coach Steve Pickerell said. "We came out and put two on the board. Then when they got up, we didn't match their intensity and they took advantage of it."

Sissonville scored two runs in the top of the first inning on a RBI double from Ethan Lauchart and RBI groundout from Houston Hill, and then added a third run in the fourth inning on a Poca error.

Boggess was rolling for the Indians, not giving up a hit through his first three innings with five strikeouts and no walks. The Dots, with their season on the line and in jeopardy, finally rallied in the fourth.

Poca took the lead it wouldn't relinquish by scoring four runs in the frame on just two hits, and was also helped by two walks, a hit batsmen, and a Sissonville error.

Austin Henrich led off the inning with the first Dots hit of the game and Matt Chandler followed with an RBI double. After a strikeout the next four Poca batters reached on a walk, hit by pitch, walk, and another error, paving the way for their comeback.

Poca added four more runs in the fifth inning to take a commanding 8-3 lead, and once again did it on just two hits. The Indians helped their cause this time with a walk, hit batsmen, and two more errors.

Chandler, who broke his hand early in the season, was playing in just his second game since the injury. The senior provided a huge lift for his Dots with three of the seven hits, two RBI, and four assists at third base.

"I'm feeling real good right now," Chandler said. "I thought I was out for the rest of the season. That's what the doctor told me. The other day, I took my cast off and he said I could throw but it may sting hitting. It does but I just want to win."

Hutchinson couldn't overemphasize the importance of Chandler being back for the Dots.

"As soon as he got cleared, everyone was all pumped up and ready to have him back," Hutchinson said. "Psychologically it had just as big as an impact on the team as it did physically."

After giving up two runs in the first inning, Henrich settled down on the mound for Poca, only allowing another run the rest of the game. He went the distance, allowing just four hits.

"Thats the type of pitcher he is," Hutchinson said. "He just focuses on his job and doesn't let a whole lot get to him. He has has experience pitching in big games and that was what we expected out of him tonight."

]]>
Buffalo evens baseball series with Charleston Catholic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519155 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519155 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:53:25 -0400 By Michael Dailey HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Charleston Catholic gained the upper hand in its best-of-three sectional series Monday, with an 11-run scoring outburst in a five-inning, mercy-rule win over Buffalo.

On Tuesday, it was Buffalo junior Nick Whittington that proved to be the difference.

Whittington (7-3) tossed a complete-game two-hitter and knocked in the game-winning run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh to lead the Bison to a thrilling 2-1 win that evened the Class A Region 4, Section 4 series at 1-1. No. 6 Catholic dropped to 19-14, while seventh ranked Buffalo improved to 20-12.

The decisive third game is slated for 5 p.m. Wednesday at George T. Smailes, Sr. Field at the YMCA Kennedy Center, with the winner squaring off against Wahama in regional semifinal play.

For Whittington, the performance was just as he’d imagined since he was a baseball-loving kid growing up in Putnam County.

“To be honest, when I was on the mound and in the batter’s box, I was thinking that this is what I always think about when I was little or when I’m lying down in bed,” Whittington said. “I always wanted to be in situations like that and God just put me in the right place today.

“I thought about it all night and all day long just trying to get myself ready for this. My cousin pitched in a state championship game and I was thinking about how he had to step up as a senior and that’s what I tried to do. I knew it could have been our last game if we didn’t come through.”

Catholic drew first blood in the third inning when Luke McKown singled and scored on an RBI ground out by Trae Swisher. McKown also singled in the fifth inning to finish with both Irish hits.

Buffalo battled back in the fourth inning, with the help of a pair of infield errors by the Irish.

Sam McKown’s throwing error with one out allowed Brandon Buntura to reach, and a fielder’s choice, a two-out error by Swisher extended the inning, allowing the Bison to capitalize with Dillon Williams’ RBI infield single to plate Buntura with the tying run.

Catholic junior right-hander Dominic Marsico (2-2) was equally impressive on the mound, tossing 6 1/3 innings, while allowing just two hits, before finally running into trouble in the seventh.

Marsico recorded the first out in the inning, but was replaced by Irish closer Jordan Covelli after a one-out walk to Buffalo’s No. 9 hitter Austin Starcher. Stephen Booth entered to run for Starcher and scored when the left handed hitting Whittington slapped the game winner over the third base bag.

“Dom did an excellent job for us,” Mehle said. “I almost hated to take him out there with the game on the line, but Jordan’s been our guy in those situations all year, and you go with what got you this far successfully.

“It was a seeing eye single that hit the base after he had him on two strikes. It was a well-played game by both teams, but we just didn’t have enough quality at-bats and we didn’t string them together. Nick pitched a good game and he got the better of us today.”

For Tribble, Tuesday’s performance was what he’s looked for all season long from his relatively young squad.

“Normally in the situation we were in, one of two things are going to happen,” Tribble said. “They’re either going to come out and just roll over, get 10-run ruled again and go home or they’re going to scratch, claw and fight to stay alive and that’s what they did tonight.

“I’ve been trying to get them to play like that all year, but I guess they needed to have their backs to the wall to where they knew it was going to be over. I knew the team that played Catholic (Monday) wasn’t Buffalo. We had 10 walks, come on. Tonight was a lot better. Sometimes it all comes down to how hungry you are. Baseball is a game of intestinal fortitude and sometimes it comes down to how bad you want to win.”

The Irish will also enter Wednesday’s contest with a fresh mindset.

“Now it’s a best of one series,” Mehle said. “I know our guys are disappointed because they wanted to close it out tonight, but that’s the nature of the game. From here on out the rest of the postseason, it’s single elimination, so we might as well start that tonight.

“After tonight, it’s win or go home.”

]]>
West Virginia Chaos travel to Pittsburgh for US Open Cup http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519156 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519156 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:51:58 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Chaos travel north Wednesday to play the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament.

The Chaos beat Fort Pitt Regiment 1-0 last week to advance out of the first round on a goal by midfielder Daniel Smee in the fifth minute at Schoenbaum Stadium. West Virginia opened its Premier Development League season last Saturday with a 3-0 win against visiting Derby City Rovers. Dion Peters, a former All-America selection at the University of Charleston, scored all three goals in the win.

Pittsburgh, a member of the United Soccer League, is 2-3-3 in its league this season and enters the U.S. Open Cup in this round after advancing to the fourth round of the 2014 competition where the club lost to Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh. Tickets can be purchased online at riverhounds.com.

]]>
Herd's Johnson leaves basketball team http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519157 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519157 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:51:09 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Another Marshall men's basketball player is headed elsewhere. The university confirmed Tuesday that forward Jay Johnson has been released from his scholarship. A Daily Mail source confirmed a Herald-Dispatch report that Johnson's planned destination is NCAA Division II Kentucky Wesleyan, where he would join another former Marshall player, Tamron Manning. KWU announced Monday that Manning would transfer there.

Johnson, a Versailles, Ky., native, averaged 15.9 minutes per game with the Thundering Herd, averaging 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds. He played one season at Marshall after transferring from John Logan College in Illinois. Johnson joins Manning, Shawn Smith (Nevada) and Devince Boykins (Georgia Southern) as Marshall players from last season who will play elsewhere next season.

]]>
Mountaineers place eight players on all-Big 12 baseball team http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519158 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519158 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:51:00 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Eight West Virginia University baseball players were recognized by the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Sophomore first baseman Jackson Cramer, freshman designated hitter Kyle Davis and senior shortstop Taylor Munden were named to the All-Big 12 second team. Four others were honorable mention selections, and right-hander B.J. Myers was an all-freshman pick along with Davis.

TCU's Cody Jones was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, and Oklahoma State's Michael Freeman was selected as the Pitcher of the Year.

Kansas' Ben Krauth was named the league's Newcomer of the Year and TCU's Connor Wanhanen was chosen as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

The awards were announced ahead of the start of the Big 12 tournament, which begins Wednesday. Seventh-seeded West Virginia plays second-seeded Oklahoma State in the first round at 8:30 p.m.

The Big 12 tournament will be played at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Okla.

Player of the Year: Cody Jones, TCU

Pitcher of the Year: Michael Freeman, Okla. State

Newcomer of the Year: Ben Krauth, Kansas

Freshman of the Year: Connor Wanhanen, TCU

Coach of the Year: Jim Scholssnagle, TCU

All-Big 12 First Team

Name, School Position Class

Gage Green, Oklahoma State C Sr.

Shane Conlon, Kansas State INF Sr.

Kolbey Carpenter, Oklahoma INF Jr.

Sheldon Neuse, Oklahoma INF So.

Donnie Walton, Oklahoma State INF Jr.

Eric Gutierrez, Texas Tech INF Jr.

Connor McKay, Kansas OF Sr.

Craig Aikin, Oklahoma OF Jr.

Cody Jones, TCU OF Sr.

Ben Johnson, Texas OF Jr.

Anthony Hermelyn, Oklahoma UTIL Jr.

Connor Wanhanen, TCU DH Fr.

Michael Freeman, Oklahoma State LHP Sr.

Preston Morrison, TCU RHP Sr.

Alex Young, TCU LHP Jr.

Cameron Smith, Texas Tech LHP Sr.

Riley Ferrell, TCU RHP Jr.

Corey Taylor, Texas Tech RHP Sr.

All-Big 12 Second Team

Name, School Position Class

Michael Tinsley, Kansas C So.

Tim Arakawa, Oklahoma State INF Sr.

Keaton Jones, TCU INF Sr.

Tres Barrera, Texas INF So.

Jackson Cramer, WVU INF So.

Taylor Munden, WVU INF Sr.

Corey Hassel, Oklahoma State OF Jr.

Ryan Sluder, Oklahoma State OF So.

Stephen Smith, Texas Tech OF So.

Kyle Davis, WVU UTIL Fr.

Cory Raley, Texas Tech DH Jr.

Ben Krauth, Kansas LHP Jr.

Nate Griep, Kansas State RHP So.

Robert Tasin, Oklahoma RHP Sr.

Parker French, Texas RHP Sr.

Jacob Evans, Oklahoma LHP Jr.

Dominic Moreno, Texas Tech RHP Sr.

Honorable mention

Baylor: Logan Brown, Daniel Castano, Adam Toth, Drew Tolson, Duncan Wendel; Kansas: Blair Beck, Matt McLaughlin, Justin Protacio, Stephen Villines; Kansas State: Max Brown, Corey Fischer, Tyler Moore, Tyler Wolfe; Oklahoma: Jake Elliott, Alec Hansen, Kyle Mendenhall; Oklahoma State: Trey Cobb, Remey Reed, Dustin Williams; TCU: Tyler Alexander, Nolan Brown, Jeremie Fagnan, Derek Odell, Evan Skoug, Dane Steinhagen, Trey Teakell, Mitchell Traver; Texas Tech: Tyler Neslony; WVU: Chad Donato, Justin Fox, Blake Smith, Ross Vance.

All-Freshman Team

Name, School Class

Kameron Esthay, Baylor OF

Matt McLaughlin, Kansas INF

Bryce Ward, Kansas State RHP

Jacob Chappell, Oklahoma State INF

Evan Skoug, TCU C

Connor Wanhanen, TCU DH

Bret Boswell, Texas INF

Michael Cantu, Texas C

Connor Mayes, Texas RHP

Orlando Garcia, Texas Tech INF

Kyle Davis, WVU UTIL

BJ Myers, WVU RHP

]]>
Hurricane softball team extends winning streak to 22 games http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519159 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519159 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:50:30 -0400 FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Courtney Rogers hit a two-run home run and struck out four to help the Hurricane cruise past visiting Chapmanville 5-1 in softball on Tuesday night.

The win over Chapmanville extended Hurricane's winning streak to 22 games since losing 3-1 road game at Musselman back on April 9.

Amber Null added a double and an RBI, while Katie Adams and Jayme Bailey also each chipped in with an RBI for the Redskins (33-2).

In the loss, Holli Carter picked her team's lone RBI, while Kanzie McCain went three-for-four at the plate for the Tigers (21-9).

]]>
Herd's Boster makes all-Conference USA baseball team http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519160 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20150519/DM03/150519160 Tue, 19 May 2015 22:50:11 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Marshall sophomore pitcher Chase Boster was named Tuesday to the all-Conference USA second team. He was the Thundering Herd's lone all-conference honoree.

Boster, also named to the conference's all-academic team, led the Herd with a 7-1 record, the conference's fourth-best win total. He ended the season with a 2.95 ERA, 10th best in C-USA, and a .233 opponent's batting average, 8th best in C-USA.

Connor Wanhanen, TCU DH

Bret Boswell, Texas INF

Michael Cantu, Texas C

Connor Mayes, Texas RHP

Orlando Garcia, Texas Tech INF

Kyle Davis, WVU UTIL

BJ Myers, WVU RHP

Conference USA baseball awards

Player of the Year: Brendon Sanger, Florida Atlantic

Pitcher of the Year: James McMahon, Southern Miss

Freshman of the Year: Ryan Chandler, Rice

Newcomer of the Year: Ronnie Jebavy, Middle Tenn.

Coach of the Year: Jim McGuire, Middle Tennessee

All-Conference USA First Team

Name, School Position Class

Jesse Baker, UTSA IF Jr.

CJ Chatham, Florida Atlantic IF So.

Edwin Rios, FIU IF Jr.

Ford Stainback, Rice IF Sr.

Ronnie Jebavy, Middle Tennessee OF Jr.

Anderson Miller, WKU OF Jr.

Brendon Sanger, Florida Atlantic OF Jr.

John Bormann, UTSA C Sr.

John Clay Reeves, Rice DH Sr.

James McMahon, Southern Miss SP Sr.

James Naile, UAB SP Sr.

Austin Orewiler, Rice SP Jr.

Jordan Stephens, Rice SP Jr.

Matt Ditman, Rice RP Sr.

All-Conference USA Second Team

Name, School Position Class

P.J. Riggins, Old Dominion IF Jr.

Danny Hudzina, WKU IF Jr.

Tim Lynch, Southern Miss IF Jr.

Ricky Santiago, Florida Atlantic IF Sr.

Roman Collins, Florida Atlantic OF JR.

Brad Jarreau, Middle Tennessee OF So.

Brian Portelli, FIU OF Sr.

Kirby Taylor, Rice OF Sr.

Esteban Tresgallo, UAB C Jr.

Adam Lau, UAB DH Jr.

Chase Boster, Marshall SP So.

Nate Hoffmann, Middle Tennessee SP Jr.

Drew Jackson, Florida Atlantic SP Sr.

Phil Maton, Louisiana Tech SP Sr.

Sam Sinnen, Old Dominion SP So.

Danny Dopico, FIU RP Jr.

All-Freshman Team

Name, School Position

Ryan Miller, Florida Atlantic C

Brent Diaz, Louisiana Tech C

Taylor Braley, Southern Miss IF

Zach Rutherford, Old Dominion IF

Ryan Chandler, Rice OF

Trent Bowles, UTSA OF

Brett Netzer, Charlotte OF

Blake Stansberry, Middle Tennessee RHP

Kirk McCarty, Southern Miss LHP

Chance Kirby, UTSA RHP

Ryan Ruggles, UAB LHP

]]>