Midland takes section
HUNTINGTON -- Over the last two years, there hasn't been a sectional tournament baseball game Cabell Midland played in that wasn't decided by one run.
Coming into Friday's contest, four of Cabell Midland's last five sectional contests had been one-run games with the other going down to the last at-bat in a three-run win.
This time, the Knights decided to get it done without the theatrics.
With threatening skies overhead, Cabell Midland jumped to an early lead and used a three-run home run blast by Brady Elkins as punctuation on an 8-0 win over Spring Valley to win the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 4 championship at Cook-Holbrook Field.
"We put some runs together here and there and then we had the big inning with three hits in a row and Brady hits the home run," Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield said. "It helped our pitchers relax because they've come back all year long. We knew we had to get out and get a lead on them."
Cabell Midland led 4-0 in the top of the fifth inning when Elkins delivered the perfect Mother's Day present for his Mom, who was sitting front row with camera in hand.
Elkins turned on a 2-1 inside pitch and sent it into the rain-filled evening air over the left-field fence to push the lead out and remove any doubt from the contest.
The added insurance was more than enough for Cabell Midland pitcher Seth Kinker, who earned the win mound after going six innings and scattering four hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Cabell Midland pitcher Seth Kinker ended the sectional with a pair of wins and a crucial save Thursday in the Knights' 7-6 come-from-behind win over Spring Valley.
It was a loss that loomed large for the Timberwolves, according to coach Jim Hensley.
"I think the kids realized that we had it in our hands last night and it slipped away," Hensley said. "They just didn't recover from it. Take nothing from those guys over there. They do what they have to do to win -- whatever it takes."
For the Knights, 'whatever it takes' included taking advantage of each opportunity given.
Cabell Midland (19-10) jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning after getting three runs off of just one hit.
After a leadoff single, the Knights got back-to-back walks and a hit batsmen to force the 1-0 lead before a throwing error and a fielder's choice led to the other two runs.
Cabell Midland tacked on another run in the third when Kinker and Bryton Jobe led off the inning with hits before Cody Ballengee's RBI base hit.
Ballengee was the unsung hero for the Knights in the sectional. After having struggles at the plate late in the season, the junior put a solid sectional tournament together.
He had the home run to tie the game in the top of the seventh on Thursday night then reached base in all four plate appearances on Friday. Ballengee finished 3-for-3 with the RBI and also reached on a walk in the second inning.
"It's good to have them (Ballengee and Elkins) hitting like we know they can," Brumfield said. "With the competition that we play -- our conference is unreal, but our out-of-conference is solid too -- those guys are seeing great pitchers every night.
"They will go through their struggles, but it gets them ready for this time of year when they see the Hollands (Huntington High's Stephen Holland) and the Wellmans (Spring Valley ace Elijah Wellman). Your stats might be down, but you have to get prepared for it."
For the Timberwolves, a strong senior class played their final game.
Hensley took time out to speak on his group following the loss.
"We lose some guys this year that come next year, it's going to be hard to look around and not see them out there," Hensley said. "They've meant a lot to us. We've got some young guys coming back who will step up and see where we'd like to be."
Cabell Midland now gets a big break before the May 20 Class AAA, Region IV semifinal against Hurricane.
CABELL MIDLAND 031 031 0 -- 8 11 1
SPRING VALLEY 000 000 0 -- 0 4 3
Kinker, Adkins (7) and Elkins. Herbert, Hamm (3), Harvey (5) and Radcliffe.
Hitting: (CM) Kuhn 2B; Jobe 2-4; Ballengee 3-3, RBI; Elkins HR, 3 RBIs; Tilley 2-4; Wooten RBI. (SV) Harvey 2B; Milum 1-1.