CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Moorefield won its third baseball state championship on Saturday night from Appalachian Power Park, beating Wheeling Central 4-3 in eight innings.
“It’s great for our community. Our fans were great and our athletes fed off of that,” said veteran Moorefield coach Wade Armentrout. “I want them to enjoy this, but I don’t want them to get complacent and think that it happens all of the time, because it’s not automatic. It takes a lot of hard work and these guys put in that work.”
Freshman Isaac Van Meter delivered the game-winning, go-ahead hit in the top of the eighth inning, bringing in Blake Watts who singled to start things off.
“There were two pretty questionable strikes (in the beginning of the at-bat), I thought,” Van Meter said. “But I thought, ‘there’s always going to be one more.’ Finally, there it was and I laid it out.”
Van Meter got the start on the mound as well and went five innings, giving up three runs (zero earned), on seven hits, while striking out two for Moorefield (23-9).
“It was just like any other game for me – just throw strikes,” Van Meter said. “Same mound, same distance, same everything. My fastball is what I mainly threw, just hitting my spots. I wasn’t trying to throw anything overpowering, I just tried to get (Wheeling Central) to ground out.”
In fact, 53 of Van Meter’s 80 pitches were strikes on the night.
Junior Derek Hoyt threw the game’s final three innings for Moorefield, giving up just one hit and striking out one.
“I close out games almost every other game – but it’s a lot better when it’s the state championship,” Hoyt said. “We’ve been a solid defense team all year and our infield has been a wall.”
The Yellow Jackets scored three of their runs in the first inning as Brent Moran crossed the plate on a throwing error, Hayden Baldwin later added an RBI single and Van Meter hit a sacrifice fly that scored Jake Ours.
Wheeling Central (24-5) collected three hits in the bottom of the inning and then capitalized on an error in the outfield, scoring all three of its runs on the play.
The score remained the same until Van Meter’s hit in the eighth.
“There’s a lot of things that have to go right to win a state championship,” Armentrout said. “Sometimes there’s some adversity you have to face to get through that. Things unraveled there for us early, but these guys were resilient, they were tough and they battled through it.”
Moorefield, which entered as the No. 4 seed in tournament play, lost only one time all year to a Class A opponent.
“We prepared our schedule to get us to this point,” Armentrout said. “We put a schedule together that was going to be really difficult. At the beginning of the year we split with Jefferson and we just talked about getting better from that point.”
Grant Keller, Watts and Baldwin all finished with two hits in the win, while Wheeling Central’s George Cupp and Chris Furka both added a pair of hits apiece in the loss.
Cupp went all eight innings on the mound for the Maroon Knights, giving up four runs on nine hits and striking out three.
The championship adds to Moorefield’s previous titles won in 2002 and 2009 – and the Yellow Jackets will return a strong core for 2019 with just three seniors currently on the roster.
“It means everything,” said one of those talented seniors, Garett Haggerty, who threw a one-hit gem in the semifinals. “I’m blessed, it’s a great way to go out. I love my team. They did this all by themselves. We had confidence in each other and came together pretty well.”
Class A Baseball All-Tournament Team
- Marshall Pile, Charleston Catholic
- Chase Swain, Ravenswood
- Ethan Mahan, Ravenswood
- Garett Haggerty, Moorefield
- Logan Wells, Wheeling Central
- Hayden Baldwin, Moorefield
- George Cupp, Wheeling Central
- Isaac Van Meter, Moorefield
- Doug Clark, Wheeling Central
- Blake Watts, Moorefield