Redskins solid in more sports than baseball
CHARLESTON -- As Hurricane wrapped up its 3-1 win Friday against Washington to advance to the Class AAA baseball championship, the Redskins moved into the finals for the first time since 2002.
It was the continuation of a trend for Hurricane athletics as a whole.
The Redskins are making the transition from a solid all-around sports program to a solid all-around sports program that competes for championships.
"I feel like we've always done well in all sports," Hurricane pitcher J.T. Rogoszewski said. "Now, we are starting to produce in the postseason."
Rogoszewski was also key in the Redskins' run to a state championship appearance in basketball where they fell by a single point to Huntington High.
Hurricane sports success has been rampant during 2013-14, no matter what season.
In boys sports, Hurricane has now reached the state championship game in baseball and basketball while also making the state playoffs in football.
On the girls' side, Hurricane won a Class AAA state championship in track and field and was the state runner-up in cross country.
The softball team was ranked No. 1 for much of the season before falling to eventual state champion Lincoln County in the postseason while the girls soccer team also fell to eventual state champ Winfield.
As was seen by Friday's crowd at Appalachian Power Park, the Hurricane community has gotten behind their sports teams.
And they have plenty of reason to do so.
HEART OF A WARRIOR: Riverside advanced to its first state baseball championship with an entertaining 3-2 walk-off win over Wheeling Park in the second Class AAA game.
The Warriors had to live up to their nickname to earn the win -- their fifth one-run win in seven postseason games.
"I said 'We've been here a million times' so many times to them tonight that I have it on repeat," Riverside head coach Pat Vogelsang said. "You could put it on a tape recorder and play it and I wouldn't have to coach. We've been down late in games and we find a way."
Trevor Smith singled back up the box to score Brandon Hancock with the game-winning run following a two-out rally that saw Hancock go to third base on Derik Chestnut's double.
The game-winner set off a celebration by first base led by pitcher Cameron Norris, who came out to jump into Smith's arms first.
Smith's single ended a wild last three turns at-bat when both teams exchanged punches.
Wheeling Park led 1-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning and the Warriors clawed out two runs without a hit to take a 2-1 lead.
Norris was one out away from securing the win, but Nathan Hardman singled home Collin Hlad to knot the game after a pair of fielding mental miscues to open the seventh inning.
It would've been easy for the Warriors to get down, but Hancock started the winning rally by reaching base prior to Chestnut's double and Smith's walk-off.
Vogelsang said Friday's performance and the postseason run by the Warriors is hopefully a momentum-builder for all sports at Riverside, who will compete in its first team championship of any sort since 1999 when they face Hurricane at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday.
"It takes mental toughness and that's a new culture we're building here at Riverside," Vogelsang said. "I think in years past, they wouldn't have necessarily thought that way or reacted that way."
THREE FOR ALL: On Friday, the first three games of the day all featured winners who scored just three runs en route to victory.
Hurricane opened the day with a 3-1 win over Washington, Riverside followed with a 3-2 walkoff win over Wheeling Park and Bridgeport earned a 3-1 win over Chapmanville in Class AA.
That's three games with a total of 13 runs - two runs less than the run total Class A Notre Dame put up in a 15-6 win over Gilmer County.
EXPECT A CROWD: Hurricane and Riverside represent the first time in Class AAA history that a pair of Kanawha Valley teams have met for the championship in the 70-year history of the State Baseball Tournaments.
Both schools had the largest crowds for Friday's session.