CHARLESTON, W.Va. – St. Albans won its first baseball title on Saturday afternoon, pouncing on the top seed Hurricane for an 8-2 win from Appalachian Power Park.
“I’m a little bit numb, just trying to take it all in,” said St. Albans coach Rick Whitman. “I’m so proud of these guys. We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity and had our backs against the wall throughout the season and (Friday). I’m just happy.”
The Red Dragons (32-9) grabbed momentum on the game’s first at-bat as sophomore Jake Carr took the third pitch he saw over the right field fence for a leadoff home run.
“I just wanted to win, that’s it,” Carr said. “The home run was kind of surprising because I didn’t think I could take one out of here, to be honest. I didn’t even know it was gone. I was rounding first base and I heard the fans’ reaction – I was pretty hyped about it.”
St. Albans seized complete control of the game with a four-run third inning as Taylor White, Casey Kemplin and Chayce Matheny all contributed RBI hits. The Red Dragons later pushed their lead out to 8-0 as Hurricane would add on its only two runs in the seventh.
St. Albans finished the state tournament scoring 24 runs in two games.
“I knew we were going to have to score, but the last few days we’ve just hit the ball – we haven’t done that all year,” Whitman said. “Our guys have just stepped up and just battled.”
Matheny was excellent on the mound in the start for St. Albans, going six and 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and striking out three.
“I throw at least 50 percent curveballs,” Matheny said. “That’s my No. 1 pitch. I don’t think they are used to pitchers like me. I just go out there and throw a lot of junk – I just have a naturally feeling for the curveball. I believed in myself and I thought I could get it done.”
Freshman Tyler Cox got the start for Hurricane (30-8), going two and 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. Logan McClure, Braden Adkins and Liam Bailey all saw action on the mound for the Redskins who could never gain much momentum.
“We didn’t make the adjustments that we usually make,” said Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin. “We didn’t get the leadoff hitter on until the seventh. The only time we could ever muster anything was with two outs.
“Hats off to (St. Albans), they just played better than we did,” Sutphin continued. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort or preparation – it’s a tough game. But I’m just so proud of them and I’m honored to be their coach.”
Carr finished with two RBIs on the day to lead the Red Dragons, while Noah Cummings, Nic Feazellle, Kemplin and Matheny all tallied two hits apiece.
Both teams return plenty of talent, starting two seniors apiece. St. Albans, specifically, started three sophomores and two freshmen.
“I teach and live in St. Albans now – it’s my home,” Whitman said. “It means a lot. St. Albans needed something like this. It’s good for the community and the school, it’s great for everybody.”