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State baseball notebook: Herd getting gem in Hoover's Bird

Jun. 02, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Herbert Hoover's Corey Bird absolutely loved the atmosphere this week at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

And Bird has a flare for putting on a show while playing in Charleston, too.

That should please Marshall University fans greatly since Bird is signed, sealed and delivered to join the Thundering Herd baseball program in the fall.

"He's a great ballplayer and he's done really well up here this week," Marshall assistant coach Tim Donnelly said. "We have been pleasantly surprised when we've seen him. At first, I thought he might need some work, but he has a chance to come in and start for us with (center-fielder) Isaac (Ballou) graduating."

If Bird does step into the fold immediately at Marshall, he'll be plenty used to Appalachian Power Park where the Herd plays conference games after having been there with the Huskies the last two seasons.

In four state tournament games, Bird was 7-for-15 at the plate.

And the hits have been of the clutch variety.

On Thursday evening, Bird had the game-tying RBI double with Herbert Hoover trailing in the seventh inning. The Huskies followed with a walk-off grand slam to beat Independence.

Then, on Saturday, he duplicated the feat with a two-out, two-run single that started a six-run rally in the sixth inning to give the Huskies a 7-5 win and the Class AA state championship.

"It was middle-in and I just put the barrel on it," Bird said. "We scored and got a rally going and it went from there."

Oh, by the way, guess who pitched the final two innings of the contest to cap the comeback win?

None other than Bird.

"I dreamt about this ever since we lost in states last year," Bird said. "I thought about pitching this game. It happened and we won. I'm ecstatic. It's just crazy. That's probably the last game I'll ever be on the mound. Actually, I know it is, but it's a great way to go out."

The amazing thing is Herbert Hoover led for a total of two-and-a-half innings in the entire Class AA tournament, but they led at the most important time -- the end.

Bird wasn't worried about how they got it done.

"It's been a great state tournament," Bird said. "We were down in this game, but I knew we weren't going to lose. In my mind, I thought we were going to win."

Bird's winning mentality is only one of the many reasons Marshall signed him in the Class of 2013. His speed, range in center field and his ability to hit to all fields are part of the others.

Those talents were on full display at Appalachian Power Park this week.

And they will be for the next four years as well.

REGION IV DOMINANCE: As was the case in softball, Region IV proved to be dominant in baseball as well.

All three championship games Saturday featured the victors from Region IV.

Herbert Hoover earned the Class AA title while Charleston Catholic took home the Class A title with a win over Magnolia.

Cabell Midland was in the Class AAA finals.

CATHOLIC WINS FIRST TITLE: Charleston Catholic has always been known as a dominant force in Class A sports.

Therefore, it might be somewhat surprising for everyone to find out that Saturday marked the Irish' first-ever Class A state baseball title.

The Irish led 9-2 before Magnolia scored three runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings to claw within 9-8. A lineout ended the game with the tying run at second.

"I've coached 17 years and we've been to the state tournament eight times," Charleston Catholic coach Bill Mehle said. "You'll be hard-pressed to find many programs that make it to the tournament that many times. It's hard as heck to get this far and play for a state championship."

UNFRIENDLY STREAK: Fairmont Senior head coach Steve Naternicola extended a streak that he didn't want to on Saturday.

Naternicola has made the state championship game seven times and lost all seven.

This one was especially painful for Naternicola, whose team led 5-1 before Herbert Hoover scored six runs with two outs in the sixth inning to earn the win.

Grant Traylor is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or gtraylor@herald-dispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).