Knights' loss a tough one to take
CHARLESTON -- They are the words that no player wants to hear or coach wants to say.
Yet, it was the only thing Cabell Midland baseball coach Tracy Brumfield could think of Saturday following Hedgesville's 4-2 defeat of the Knights in the Class AAA state championship game at Appalachian Power Park.
"That's just baseball, boys," Brumfield said.
It sounds like a simple-enough statement, but even Brumfield had difficulty accepting its meaning following the loss.
He watched as his team jumped out to an early lead, played well defensively and laced the ball time after time against Hedgesville starter Derrick Snider.
However, each time Brumfield and the Knights looked on during the game, Hedgesville had a player making a defensive play to snub out a would-be hit in similar instances.
The Eagles certainly did not look like the same team who committed four errors in the game against Parkersburg South just 24 hours prior.
Hedgesville second baseman Hunter Knight caught a pair of line drives that would've likely scored runs for Cabell Midland and his relay throw for a double play in the seventh inning helped erase an error to lead off the frame -- an error that had the Knights smelling a comeback.
The opportunities were there -- almost taunting the Knights -- as they proved to be just out of reach of Cabell Midland because they were, in fact, in reach of Hedgesville fielders.
Cody Ballengee of the Knights hit three sharp balls that all found fielders. Brady Elkins and Cole Tilley both lined shots that ended up finding the webbing of a Hedgesville glove.
It got to the point that on the supposed final out of the game, Hedgesville players started celebrating on the field before realizing center fielder Troy Markley had dropped a line drive hit by Taylor Kuhn.
Seth Kinker's fourth hit of the day -- a sharp single to left-center -- put the tying run on, but once again, it was Hedgesville's Knight that proved to be the Knights' undoing as he ended the game with a putout of Bryton Jobe.
Cabell Midland players sat in tears and had frozen looks as they tried to replay in their heads where everything fell apart before the final handshake and post-game ceremony.
Just one inning -- the fourth -- stood between Midland and a championship. It was an inning where Hedgesville got baserunners and a couple of timely hits.
Nothing more, nothing less.
The game was all about quality, not quantity, and that's where Hedgesville got its advantage.
Unfortunately for Cabell Midland's players, coaches and fans, the phrase echoed by Brumfield five times in two minutes will now linger in their minds for the next nine months.