CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Hurricane made quick work of Riverside in the Class AAA baseball state championship, needing less than two hours for a 9-2 win at jam-packed Appalachian Power Park.
All nine players in the starting lineup reached base, with eight of the nine collecting a hit, as the Redskins capped a 29-7 season.
“They’re some winners, there’s no doubt about that,” Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin said. “That’s all them—they’re just a special group and it has nothing to do with any adult. Those are mature, young men who believe in each other and push each other. All of those guys are great teammates.”
Junior standout J.T. Rogoszewski finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
“It feels great to bring a championship back to our town again – it’s a great feeling,” Rogoszewski said.
The Redskins (29-7) completed on the baseball field what they came just short of accomplishing on the basketball court back in March. Rogoszewski was a part of that Hurricane hoops team that fell in the Class AAA title game to Huntington.
“I tried not to think about this game last night, because I feel like we did that a little bit too much in basketball,” he said. “I’m glad we got to finish one – it feels great.”
Besides Rogoszewski, DH Justin Crouch went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored, while catcher Tate Brock and pitcher Austin Hensley all collected two hits apiece as well.
Hensley also got the start on the mound and went the full seven innings, giving up just three hits and two unearned runs.
“I was just getting ahead early with my two-seam fastball and mixing speeds with my slider, curveball and changeup,” Hensley said. “I was able to keep them off-balance, getting them to sit back and take a pitch. I got ahead in the count early.”
Although the final score wasn’t close, Riverside held a brief 1-0 lead after the top half of the first inning as second baseman Derrick Chestnut reached on a Hurricane error and back-to-back Warrior hits brought him to home plate.
The Redskins responded quickly in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff single from Hensley, later followed by back-to-back RBI doubles from Rogoszewski and right fielder Alexander Dunham.
Hurricane took complete control from there with two more scores in the second, another run in the third, two more in the fourth and finally two more runs in the sixth.
“The strength of any team is how strong you are throughout the lineup,” Sutphin said. “Zach Pate led our team in runs scored this year, hitting ninth. Trey Dawson led our team in RBIs and hit leadoff. The only way you can do that is if all of the guys are getting on. It’s been a total team effort.”
The loss ended a historic postseason run for Riverside (20-11), which made its first state tournament appearance.
“We took it as far as we could get it, and we lost to a real good team,” said Riverside coach Pat Vogelsang. “We didn’t play as well as we should have, but those nine kids on the field fought their butts off.”
Brady Wilkinson pitched six innings for the Warriors, giving up nine runs (six earned) on 12 hits.
“He’s a headstrong kid who only gets better as the game goes on,” Vogelsang said. “It’s hard to pull a kid like that. I stuck with him because he wants the ball in his hand and I’m comfortable giving it to him.”
“I was just trying to pitch to contact, but I left a lot of balls up and they hit them really well,” Wilkinson said. “You have to come in thinking you’re going to win and we did. It’s just tough that it ended like this.”
Cameron Norris, Samuel Stone and Wilkinson collected the three hits for Riverside.
An overflow crowd watched Hurricane win its first baseball state championship since 2002.
“You look around and it’s hard not to be successful with that kind of community and support,” Sutphin said. “We truly have an unbelievable community. It makes you awfully proud to be a part of it.”