CHARLESTON, W.Va. – WVU recruit Jake Carr was outstanding, throwing a one-hitter for defending state champion St. Albans on Thursday night in the Class AAA semifinal.
No. 3 Wheeling Park, however, was just a little better, manufacturing a run in the sixth inning to beat No. 2 St. Albans 1-0.
In its fourth trip to the state tournament in five years, Wheeling Park (21-6) finally broke through to the title game.
“Any time you get a chance to play for a championship, it’s a (much better feeling),” said Wheeling Park coach Mike McLeod. “We finally got over the hump as a program. I guess the fourth time was a charm, not the third. These kids deserve everything. I’m proud of them. It was a total team effort.”
Carr powered St. Albans (28-11) by throwing seven innings and striking out 13.
“If you look at everything throughout that game, we’re supposed to win that game,” said St. Albans coach Rick Whitman. “They had one hit, we had six, 13 strikeouts. (Carr) was unbelievable. But there’s a fine line between winning and losing at this level. They were a little bit better than us tonight.”
Zach Hickman threw 4 1/3 innings and Ben Taylor finished up in a combined complete-game effort for Wheeling Park.
“It felt awesome,” said Hickman, who scattered five hits and struck out five. “We were down here my sophomore year and couldn’t get over the hump. This year, we’re finally in the championship game and it’s a great feeling. My two-seam was really working well and I had a lot of success in my curveball breaking well today too.”
Taylor threw 2 2/3 innings, giving up just one hit and striking out three.
“I was pretty nervous the whole time, just trying to throw as hard as I could while still throwing strikes,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be pretty hyped on Saturday and we’re all looking forward to it, that’s for sure.”
Neither Patriots’ pitcher surrendered a walk in the win and their defense didn’t commit an error.
“We just had to get aggressive, we didn’t have anything going. We had one hit,” McLeod said. “We had to try to swipe a base and get to third with one out. You take a chance and that’s what we did – it worked out for us.”
The Patriots will face No. 1 Hurricane (33-4) for the state championship on Saturday at 10 a.m.
“It doesn’t get any easier, we know that for sure,” McLeod said. “They’re No. 1 for a reason. Year-in and year-out, their program is so great. We’re going to take Friday off, relax and try to give it our best shot. If we come out and play like we did today, we’ll battle and see what happens.”
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