Hurricane makes state final
CHARLESTON -- With his team's first state baseball championship berth in 12 years on the line, Hurricane pitcher J.T. Rogoszewski said he felt very little pressure in the final inning of Friday morning's matchup with Washington.
For Rogoszewski, it was as easy as 1-2-3.
Rogoszewski overcame control problems, needing just seven pitches to work his only perfect inning of the game to send Hurricane to a 3-1 win over Washington in the Class AAA semifinals at Appalachian Power Park.
"That last inning, I had another run to help me out, so I tried to go right after them and let them hit the ball and let the defense play," Rogoszewski said.
Hurricane returns to the Class AAA state championship for the first time since 2002 in a game that will start at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday. Hurricane will take on Riverside, which recorded a 3-2 win over Wheeling Park.
Rogoszewski's seventh inning was made much easier after he got a key insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning to turn a one-run game into a two-run affair.
Zach Pate welcomed Washington reliever Zac Burch with a double to right-center field in the sixth and scored following two wild pitches to set the final margin.
Pate's double came directly after he had ended the top half of the sixth inning with a running catch in deep center field to potentially save another run.
Just as Pate did when he made a diving catch to preserve a 1-0 win over Cabell Midland in the Region IV semifinal, the senior center-fielder was able to get a good jump and track the ball off the bat of Hunter Weaver to keep Washington from potentially tying the game, which was 2-1 at the time.
"I trust him out there," Rogoszewski said. "I had no doubt he was catching that one, too."
Rogoszewski faced off with Washington's Jared Silva in a battle of top-tier pitching aces in the state of West Virginia.
Both pitchers had to deal with control issues, but the defensive effort behind Rogoszewski was solid as the Redskins picked a pair of runners off the basepaths and executed a crucial double play.
Two of those plays were in the fifth inning when it appeared as though Washington had something working.
After a leadoff walk to Trevor Pansch, a bunt attempt by Corey Lewis got past Austin Hensley at third base. Rogoszewski was backing up Hensley on the attempt and faked a throw to first before firing in behind Pansch at second for the out.
Instead of a first and second situation with no outs, Washington had Lewis on first base with one down. Three pitches later, Hurricane shortstop Trey Dawson fielded a grounder up the middle and stepped on second before tossing to Brandon Pauley for a double play to get out of the inning.
"They're baseball players," Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin said. "They come to practice every day with their heads on a swivel and learning and pushing ech other. Those plays are ones that, over the course of time, you start trusting your abilities a little bit. Those are big plays."
Prior to scoring the insurance run in the sixth inning, Hurricane used patience at the plate to capitalize on Silva's lack of command.
After Silva hit Rogoszewski and walked Alexander Dunham on four pitches in the third inning, Tate Brock sent a one-out single back through the box to plate courtesy runner Travis Lavenski for a 2-1 lead.
Hurricane scored its first run in the second inning without getting a hit. Brandon Pauley worked a walk following in an eight-pitch at-bat and moved to third base on a pair of sacrifice bunts. On the first pitch following Zach Pate's sacrifice bunt Pauley raced home when a pitch by Silva got away from catcher Texas Cobb to give Hurricane the early 1-0 lead.
Silva erased the deficit on his own with a two-out RBI single in the top of the third inning to score Bryan Bayliss who had walked.
Hurricane had several chances to break the game open early, stranding the bases loaded in the first and third innings. The Redskins left 13 runners on base.
The Redskins worked Silva's pitch count well, forcing him into 76 pitches through just three innings. Silva exited the game after five innings, having thrown 104 pitches.
"When you get in a pitcher's head by getting runners on, it really makes him think," Rogoszewski said. "It might cause him to miss a couple more times and you can see a couple more pitches to get your hit."
Rogoszewski allowed just four hits and one earned run while walking four and striking out three in the complete-game win.
WASHINGTON 001 000 0 -- 1 4 1
HURRICANE 011 001 x -- 3 4 0
Silva, Burch (6) and Cobb. Rogoszewski and Brock.
Hitting: (W) Silva RBI. (H) Brock 1-1, RBI, 2 BB; Pate 2B.
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