CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bridgeport will play for its fifth straight Class AA baseball state championship after freshman shortstop Ryan Goff delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat James Monroe 4-3 on Friday from Appalachian Power Park.
“I was kind of nervous, but I just had to capitalize,” Goff said. “Coach (Robert) Shields has been telling me to be clutch – and I’m trying to be. It was awesome. I have no words to explain it.”
Goff certainly was clutch, finishing the day 2 for 4 with that game-winning RBI.
“First pitch, driving it up the middle like Ryan did, amen,” Shields said. “I’m a little bit stifled about all of the (other) opportunities we squandered away. But we live to play another day. We’re where we want to be. We’re playing for another championship and I’m proud of them.”
Chapin Murphy and Nick Stalnaker started off the bottom of the seventh for Bridgeport (29-10) with back-to-back walks, setting the stage later in the inning for Goff’s walk-off dramatics.
Tim Via got the start for Bridgeport on the mound, going four and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and striking out three.
Nate Cole, in relief, finished the game’s final two and one-third innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two.
“I just came in and tried to do my best by shutting them down, I just wanted to do my job,” Cole said. “We just had to be resilient in the end – we couldn’t go away. We had to keep fighting and battling. I’m been looking forward to (Saturday) for a long time now. We just have to go out there and hopefully get the fifth (title in a row).”
With Via and Cole both throwing on Friday, it saves Bridgeport’s ace, Brayden Lesher, for that championship game on Saturday.
“That was the decision that I was wavering all week on,” Shields said. “I guess I look like a genius in some aspects of it now. But, hey, we have him on the mound. Now we just have to try and refocus for tomorrow.”
Second baseman Koby Kiefer and DH Cooper Hineman both added two hits apiece for the Indians as Hineman delivered a critical two-RBI double in the second inning.
James Monroe (17-9) was led by senior Grant Mohler who went 3 for 3 with an RBI. Mohler also got the start on the mound, going four innings and giving up three runs on eight hits.
“You can’t replace him,” James Monroe coach Nick Newberry said of Mohler. “He’s been as good of a student, person and athlete that you could have come through the system. All four of our seniors are really good kids and I’m going to miss all of them a lot.”
It’s the second straight defeat in the semifinals to Bridgeport for James Monroe, falling a year ago in the same game, 4-0.
“Our kids battled and played a great game,” Newberry said. “I think the two best teams in the state were playing against each other today and it was a great game.”
Cody Moore also went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored in the loss for James Monroe.
Bridgeport will face either Wayne or Frankfort for the Class AA championship on Saturday, following the Class AAA title game, which begins at 10 a.m.
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