ELKINS, W.Va. — Back-to-back wins over top 10 teams this week seemingly cemented No. 4 Elkins’ status as one of several Class AA state championship contenders in 2017.
The Tigers (11-2) on Monday edged No. 1 and three-time defending state champion Bridgeport 1-0 in eight innings, and followed with a 7-3 win over No. 7 Braxton County on Tuesday night — it was the second win this season for the Tigers over Braxton County, a state tournament team from a season ago.
Elkins entered the year with expectations to contend, but that win over Bridgeport — even though it was just one game — served as another confidence boost.
“It was an old-fashioned baseball game with good pitching and good defense,” said Elkins coach Jack Crumm. “When you think about Bridgeport, they seem to be pretty dominant in all sports. A lot of times you get the mindset when you’re playing Bridgeport (in any sport), that you can just chalk it up as a loss. But these guys are a little different and they have a little bit of a swagger to them.
“These guys have had some success at the little league level, they won the state tournaments in Babe Ruth and a lot of our guys play for our legion team, which is typically pretty strong,” he continued. “They’ve experienced some success through those years and even had some pretty good postseason runs (in Class AAA) when they went to the regionals.”
Prior to dropping to Class AA this year, Elkins advanced to the regional final last year where it fell to eventual champion and powerhouse Jefferson, 8-1. Returning five starters and several role players from that team, the Tigers were anticipated to be in the mix right away in Class AA, entering the year preseason No. 10.
“We’ve been in the Big 10 and it’s a very strong AA conference,” he said. “So the type of play, up until we got to regionals in AAA, is pretty much what we have this year. We knew it was going to be a similar circumstance — it was going to be a battle each night and we were going to be in tight games.
“We weren’t expecting, just because we dropped to Class AA, to compete for a championship,” Crumm said. “But that is our thought – that’s our goal from spring practice to throughout the year. What do we need to do to get better so that we can play at that level? That’s where we want to take our program.”
Senior Adam Riggleman, a Glenville State signee, is the ace on the mound for the Tigers, while senior Ben Huffman, junior Jesse Williams, sophomore Matt Gainer, senior Kyle Riggleman (West Virginia Wesleyan signee), sophomore Read Schumacher and junior Joseph Schmidlen have all provided depth.
“Adam (Riggleman) has definitely been carrying us so far this year,” Crumm said. “When he’s on the mound, we always feel like we’re in good shape. He’s got some good stuff – a little bit of speed and then some off-speed mixed in.”
Senior Luke Petrice, Huffman, DH Blake Loftis, senior Matt Wilson and sophomore David Gainer have led the way at the plate.
Sectional play will be an all-out battle for the Tigers, matched up with No. 1 Bridgeport, No. 10 Lincoln, Liberty (H) and Robert C. Byrd.
A sign of that section’s overall depth came Wednesday when Elkins fell on the road to Liberty, 8-7.
“That double-elimination tournament is going to be a nightmare,” Crumm said. “It’s going to be a good tournament and we’re excited about it. But it’s baseball – anything can happen.”
Elkins has a Class AAA runner-up finish in 1990 and is still searching for its first baseball title.
“We have to stay healthy, especially on the mound, and we need to get a little bit more disciplined at the plate,” Crumm said. “If we are able to keep our focus, we should be good and we should be in the mix.”
2017 Baseball Schedule
|1||Cancelled||PM||A –||LEWIS COUNTY||–|
|2||Cancelled||6:00PM||H –||TYGARTS VALLEY MIDDLE/SENIOR HIGH||–|
|3||03/23/17||5:00PM||A –||NORTH MARION||4||–||2||W|
|4||03/24/17||4:30PM||H –||BRAXTON COUNTY||12||–||9||W|
|7||04/03/17||4:30PM||H –||NORTH MARION||12||–||2||W|
|8||04/04/17||5:00PM||A –||FAIRMONT SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL||11||–||0||W|
|9||04/05/17||4:30PM||H –||PHILIP BARBOUR HIGH SCHOOL||11||–||1||W|
|11||04/11/17||5:00PM||A –||EAST FAIRMONT||8||–||7
|12||04/12/17||4:30PM||A –||ROBERT C. BYRD||11||–||6
|13||04/17/17||7:00 PM||H –||BRIDGEPORT
|14||04/18/17||4:00PM||A –||BRAXTON COUNTY||7||–||3
|15||04/19/17||7:00PM||A –||LIBERTY (HARRISON)||8||–||7
|16||04/20/17||4:30PM||A –||PHILIP BARBOUR HIGH SCHOOL||9||–||0||W|
|17||04/21/17||7:00PM||H –||LEWIS COUNTY||–|
|18||04/22/17||11:00AM||H –||JV ONLY V MORGANTOWN||–|
|20||04/25/17||7:00PM||H –||ROBERT C. BYRD||–|
|21||04/27/17||4:30PM||A –||BRIDGEPORT SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL||–|
|23||05/01/17||5:00PM||A –||PRESTON HIGH SCHOOL||–|
|26||05/05/17||6:00PM||H –||LIBERTY (HARRISON)||–|
|wins: 11 lost: 2 ties: 0|