CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bridgeport won an all-time classic on Saturday afternoon from Appalachian Power Park, capturing its unprecedented fifth straight Class AA baseball state championship in a 17-15 thrilling victory over Wayne.
“It’s awesome,” said Bridgeport senior Chapin Murphy. “It’s our fifth one in a row and I have no words to explain it. It’s unreal.
“Best feeling in the world,” he continued. “It means everything. So much pressure was on us and we’re bringing it back to the city. It’s just awesome.”
The Indians put together an incredible late-game rally after trailing 7-1 in the second and then 13-8 going into the bottom of the sixth.
Bridgeport (30-10) scored nine runs in the sixth inning to take its first lead of the game, stunning a Wayne team that had been in control for much of the contest.
“(Wayne’s players) were happy and they thought they got it done,” Murphy said. “But our guys just came through. We couldn’t be counted out. We were just excited to get some runs on the board as we kept battling back.
“Both teams hit the ball extremely well,” he continued. “Defense wasn’t even that bad – just the hitting was incredible for both teams. I’m just happy that we’re on top.”
Bridgeport trailed 10-5 after the top half of the third inning when the game was delayed for one hour and 16 minutes due to rain. Bridgeport came out of the delay quickly countering with a three-run bottom of the third, tightening the game 10-8.
“We’ve been through adversity the whole season and we’ve dealt with it well. Today, we definitely dealt with it well,” said Bridgeport senior Koby Kiefer. “We’re a tough group. We’ve had high expectations the whole way and we’ve been fighting, working hard day-in and day-out to get it done.”
Murphy led Bridgeport at the plate, going 3 for 4 with five RBIs, while Brayden Lesher went 3 for 4 with a run scored. Kiefer, Cooper Hineman and Nick Stalnaker all added two hits apiece as well for the Indians.
“This is a big-time special moment right here,” said Bridgeport coach Robert Shields. “Just witnessing these guys early in the year and then to come through our rough spot in the middle of the season against the schedule we play. That’s why we play that type of a schedule – I think it helped these guys today.
“They have so much fight and a never-quit attitude,” he continued. “These kids came from behind a lot all year and I kept saying time was going to run out on them – it never happened. They made me a believer. It didn’t matter what kind of score it was, I knew they had the fight to come back. God bless these boys.”
Lesher, Bridgeport’s ace, gave up an atypical 13 runs on 12 hits over five innings. Tyler Pitzer and Kiefer both threw an inning of relief apiece as well.
Wayne, meanwhile, ran out of gas on the mound, itself, after Friday’s 9-inning marathon win over Frankfort in the semifinals.
Ethan Blatt went four innings Saturday for the Pioneers, giving up eight runs on six hits, while Thomas Slusher and Jeremiah Milum both threw an inning apiece in relief.
“You would like to go out and win your last one, but the way our team was arranged with not having the pitching depth, we were playing with house money,” said Wayne coach Todd Ross. “We pushed our chips all in and came up a little bit short today. “But the way that we battled and handled adversity, hats off to my team – I’m proud of them.
“It was such a hard road to get to play Bridgeport,” he continued. “We’ve been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for the last three years and we’ve been trying to get here and play them. Now that we were here, it took a load off of our shoulders to where we could just go out and play ball. That’s what we did today.”
Cayden Ross led Wayne (26-6) at the plate, going 4 for 5 with five RBIs, while Wyatt Milum went 4 for 4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Josh Perry also added a pair of hits and two RBIs for the Pioneers.
Including the rain delay, Saturday’s title game spanned over four hours and 13 minutes.
Overall, it’s Bridgeport’s seventh baseball title, to go along with championships won in 1993, 2000, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Saturday’s title game, specifically, was the highest scoring baseball championship game of any class going back to at least 1984 (SSAC records don’t list scores prior to 1984).
“We had 15 hits to match their hitting squad,” Sheilds said. “That was a bunch of heavy hitters up top. Hats off to them – they had some top-heavy hitters. But we had fight one through nine in our group and I’m proud of them.”
2018 Class AA Baseball All-Tournament Team
- Wyatt Yates, Frankfort
- Grant Mohler, James Monroe
- Wyatt Milum, Wayne
- Jeremiah Milum, Wayne
- Ryan Goff, Bridgeport
- Cooper Hineman, Bridgeport
- Chapin Murphy, Bridgeport
- Josh Perry, Wayne
- Cayden Ross, Wayne
- Zach Perry, Wayne