Grant Traylor: Opening-round games go down to wire in Charleston
CHARLESTON -- Two walk-off wins, a 10-inning affair and a one-run game.
That was the first four games of the 2013 West Virginia State Baseball Tournament at Appalachian Power Park.
In each of the first four games, a team tied the game or took the lead when down to their final at-bat to extend their season.
Three of the teams trailing entering the seventh inning came away victorious.
That's fun baseball.
Whether it was the Thursday matchups or Friday's semifinals, the first rounds featured terrific, down-to-the-wire action.
During Friday's final Class A semifinal between Charleston Catholic and Valley-Fayette, the Irish earned the 6-5 win over the Greyhounds when Connor Golden sent a single back up the middle to plate Thad Jameson with the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh.
The game-winner came after Valley had tied the game with RBI hits by Raeshawn Breckenridge and Cody Winter. However, the Greyhounds also had two runners thrown out at the plate in the top of the seventh that proved costly.
Charleston Catholic will now take on Magnolia, who scored two runs in the top of the seventh to earn a 4-3 victory over Notre Dame.
The highlight of the initial games at Appy Power Park was Thursday's walk-off grand slam by Herbert Hoover's Hunter White that gave the Huskies, the Region IV champion, a 7-3 win over Independence and a spot in the Class AA championship game.
White's shot cleared the left-field fence and set off a wild celebration for the Huskies, who had entered the final inning trailing 3-2, but tied the game on a Corey Bird double down the left-field line.
The tone for the tournament was set in the first game Thursday evening when Fairmont Senior needed 10 innings to defeat Bridgeport, 9-6, in the other Class AA semifinal.
The Bears tied the game in their final at-bat after an error and a wild pitch set up a groundout to knot the game at four.
Fairmont Senior took a 6-4 lead in the top of the ninth, but Bridgeport battled back to tie it on a two-out, RBI double by Greg Smith.
The Bears came back and put the game-winning trifecta of runs up in the 10th to earn their place against Herbert Hoover in Saturday's 10 a.m. championship game.
GREAT CABLE SERVICE: Give the unsung hero award to Charleston Catholic's Drew Cable, the Irish catcher who took a beating to deliver a beating Friday afternoon.
With one out and runners on second and third, Valley-Fayette's Raeshawn Breckenridge singled up the middle to score one run, but Charleston Catholic's Rocco Wilcox gunned down the initial tying run at the plate by hitting Cable with a strike at the dish as Cable blocked the plate.
Then, Cable made a potential game-saving play when Cody Winter doubled to score Drew Jones with the game-tying run.
However, Valley-Fayette's Arik McGinnis ran through a stop sign at third and was bearing down on Cable at the plate. Cable caught the ball and absorbed a massive collision with McGinnis -- which isn't technically legal in high school baseball -- and held on for the out to keep the game tied.
BOWEN'S RELIEF: Herbert Hoover starting pitcher Tristan Fields left the game after taking a liner off the shin in the first inning Thursday.
Cody Bowen came in as relief for Fields and was dominant, recording 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, sixth and seventh to give the Huskies the comeback opportunity.
He needed only 73 pitches to get through the final 6 1/3 innings, recording six strikeouts and no walks in the process.
Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).