BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — It took two venues and well over four hours to complete Friday’s game between Fairmont Senior and Herbert Hoover as part of the annual McDonald’s Classic.
The wait ended up being well worth it for the Polar Bears, who got a walk-off single from Breeden Gilbert in the bottom of the seventh inning to claim a 6-5 victory over the Huskies.
“It felt great driving (Exavier) Posey in,” Gilbert said. “I’ve been leaving a lot of people stranded on the bases, so it felt good finally hitting people in.”
The contest, which began at Bridgeport High School and saw the teams tied at 5 through four-and-a-half innings, was finished at the Bridgeport Recreation Complex following a two-hour rain delay.
When play resumed at the new location, Herbert Hoover (4-13) then looked poise to take its first lead of the game after Nick Grayam led off the sixth with a double to right-centerfield. But on Evan McGraw’s groundout to third in the next at bat, Grayam was thrown out trying to advance to third.
“We turned that double play in that sixth inning and that’s what got them going,” Fairmont Senior coach David Ricer said.
Neither team had a serious scoring threat again until Exavier Posey led off the bottom of the seventh with a single. Posey stole second, before easily scoring on Gilbert’s solid single to left.
Gilbert showed why he was the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, working a full count and spoiling several quality pitches from Brayden Rollyson before delivering the hit to left that gave Fairmont Senior (9-5) its fifth straight win.
“I was just waiting for a pitch I knew I was going to hit solid,” Gilbert said. “When it came, I just put it down the line where he threw it at.”
Fairmont Senior took advantage of Cam Hines’ leadoff single and Posey’s walk to take an early 2-0 lead. Gilbert’s bloop single to left plated Hines for the first run and Tanner Hoskinson drove in Posey with a groundout to third.
Grayam had a single in the top of the second to score Tucker Puroy and cut the Huskies’ deficit in half.
When steady rain began falling in the bottom of the fourth, the Polar Bears got to Hoover starting pitcher Rhett White for the first time since the opening inning.
Hoskinson drew a leadoff walk and scored on a two-run home run by Connor Saunders.
Elijah Posey followed with a bunt single and moved up to third, before scoring on Caden Miller’s groundout to short.
But just as it looked as though the Polar Bears were in control, the Huskies struck back.
Grayam led off with a triple to center and scored on McGraw’s single to center, trimming the deficit to 5-2. With two on and one out, the Polar Bears replaced starting pitcher Matt Edwards with Kyle Brubaker.
He was immediately greeted by Copenhaver’s bunt single to third, with an error on the play allowing White to score. A groundball to third off the bat of Brandon Mullins allowed Austin Hanson to come home, while a throwing error brought Copenhaver home with the tying run.
“In that inning especially, we hit line drives and ground balls and didn’t make easy outs with pop ups and fly balls,” Hoover coach J.R. Oliver said. “In that type of situation, the more the ball is on the ground, the more it’s going to get wet. We took advantage of that, but we played hard. I’m proud of the kids for that — especially given the circumstances and conditions.”
The delay followed and the teams helped tarp the field at BHS. After waiting about an hour, they decided to finish at the recreation complex.
Hines earned the win with a pair of scoreless innings in relief.
“Cam came out and shut the door and did a great job in those two innings he pitched,” Ricer said.
Rollyson allowed one run on three hits in two-plus innings to take the loss.
Gilbert was his team’s lone player with more than one hit, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Grayam was 3-for-3 and a home run short of the cycle, while Copenhaver also had three hits.