BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — A two-run sixth inning gave Shady Spring a lead and a two-run seventh inning provided necessary insurance as the Tigers held off Bluefield, 6-5 in the decisive game of the Class AA Region III series Saturday at Bowen Field. With the win, No. 5 Shady Spring (26-9) qualified for the state tournament for the second time in four years.
“I had confidence in my team at [Independence]. I knew we could do it. And then here against Bluefield, I knew we could do it. My team has a lot of senior leaders, but it is a great bond. It is family,” said Shady Spring head coach Jordan Meadows.
The Tigers erased a 3-2 deficit in the sixth inning when Evan Belcher singled through a drawn-in infield with the bases loaded. Josh Lovell and Alex Johnston scored to give Shady a lead they would not relinquish.
“The first two at bats, [Belcher] hit pop flies to centerfield. I told him, ‘You are getting underneath it. Just stay on top’. It was a great six-hole hit to score two runs and give us the lead. Then in the last inning, we got a little bit more cushion.”
The Tigers extended their lead to 6-3 in the seventh on a run-scoring fly out from Lovell and an RBI single from Aden Seabolt.
Bluefield answered with a run-scoring single from Hunter Harmon and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Harris. With the tying run on second for Bluefield, Shady pitcher David Young induced a fly out to end the game. Young went the distance for the Tigers, allowing just six hits.
“David is always going to throw strikes no matter what. He might not throw the hardest but the kid is a stud and he is a senior. We call him ‘Iceman’.”
Lovell and Jacob Meadows had multi-hit games for the Tigers. Kerry Collins drove in three runs for No. 9 Bluefield (20-8). Bryson Redmond scored three times.
Shady Spring is the No. 4 seed in the Class AA state tournament. They will face defending state champion and No. 1 seed Logan (26-9) in the tournament opener Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
“I like my odds with Cam Manns on the mound against anybody. The dude is a stud and he has one loss on the year.”