ELKINS, W.Va. — When Elkins pitcher Matt Gainer retired Bridgeport’s Ryan Goff for the second out of the seventh inning, it put the Tigers one out away from having a chance to earn a walk-off win Tuesday.
The problem was it also marked the end of the outing for Gainer, who had reached the 110 pitch limit and was removed from the mound in favor of Hunter Mouse.
Mouse was greeted by a tie-breaking triple from Nick Stalnaker, which scored Evan Ogden from second and sent the Class AA No. 1 Indians past the No. 7 Tigers, 3-2.
“I would have to say this is definitely the most satisfying win of the season just for the simple fact that we knew we were going to see another quality pitcher,” Bridgeport coach Robert Shields said.
Stalnaker’s triple to left-center marked the game’s first scoring play since the third inning and easily allowed Ogden to come home from second. He’d reached on a fielder’s choice following Austin Sponuagle’s leadoff single, and then stole second with two outs after Mouse toed the rubber.
“We took a lot of pitches today and I thought they felt comfortable,” Shields said. “We only had six strikeouts and we made (Gainer) work and got him out when we had to.”
The Indians (11-2) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Ogden drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and eventually scored on Ethan Perry’s groundout to first.
But the advantage was short lived as the Tigers (12-6) answered with a pair of runs in their half of the first. Read Schumacher doubled to left and moved to third on Nathan Cooper’s single. Gainer followed with a double to center to plate Schumacher and Cooper scored on a passed ball with two outs.
Elkins committed the game’s only error in the top of the third and it led directly to Drew Harbert’s two-out single that scored Goff to tie the game at 2.
“We lost 3-2 to the number one team in the state, so that says a lot,” Elkins coach Jack Crumm said. “Defensively, we could’ve played better. And if we would’ve, we’d have won the game.”
Ogden helped turn double plays in the bottom of the third and fourth innings, the latter of which ended the frame on Cole Crumm’s lineout.
From that point forward, Bridgeport starting pitcher Tyler Wilkinson retired nine of 10 Elkins batters, allowing only Remington Stanley’s two out single in the sixth.
After Stalnaker’s triple put BHS on top, Wilkinson induced a pair of flyball outs and struck out Crumm in between. Wilkinson allowed seven hits over seven innings, struck out a pair and walked three. He had excelled in a relief role this season up until Tuesday, which marked his first start.
“It means a lot. I’m trying to fill a role and trying to do everything I can to help us win,” Wilkinson said. “I had a lot of help from my fielders and Evan Ogden made two really amazing plays at second base. We put the bat on the ball and got the win.”
Gainer took the loss, allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three while scattering six hits.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff,” coach Crumm said. “His command wasn’t what it usually is, but he’s going to go out there and do what he does. That’s pitch and work hard to make outs.”
Stalnaker was 3-for-3, while Ogden scored twice.
Gainer and Stanley each had two hits in defeat.