Knights hold off Highlanders
HUNTINGTON -- For a regular-season matchup between Cabell Midland and Huntington High in baseball, it doesn't get much bigger than Wednesday night's finish.
Cabell Midland was clinging to a two-run lead, but the Highlanders had the tying run at the plate.
Huntington High's Joey Mundy -- a Vanderbilt signee -- was at the plate to face Cabell Midland pitcher Seth Kinker, who is headed to Ohio States.
The at-bat had all the feel of a high-level Division I matchup and it certainly didn't disappoint the crowd.
Mundy put a charge into Kinker's offering and Huntington High fans rose to their feet thinking he had tied the game, but the ball turned into a deep fly-out as Eric Wooten settled under it.
Three batters later, Kinker got Chase Ashworth to pop up on the first pitch to give the Knights a 5-3 win in the season's first matchup between the teams.
"It was a battle and they had a chance," Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield said. "We knew they were going to fight back because they are a heck of a team. Anytime you beat Huntington High, you feel good because they're a really good team."
Close battles between the two teams are nothing new, regardless of how either one's season is going.
However, both feature potent lineups and high expectations this season, so the matchup between two of the state's top players in the seventh took the excitement to a new level.
"Ohio State vs. Vandy going at it," Kinker said. "That's a matchup everyone wants to see around here."
Mundy winced and gave a sly smile after the at-bat, knowing he had just missed the pitch that Kinker went on to describe in detail.
"The pitch he got under was a slider and it worked in on him," Kinker said. "He got a great piece on it, but I could tell it wasn't gone when he hit it. No. 1, he grunted and No. 2, the ball wasn't carrying out to that part of the park tonight."
It was an analysis that was above the level of most high school-caliber athletes. Then again, so were both players involved in the at-bat.
The showdown was the final in a contest that saw each team take their shots against the other.
Huntington High (7-3) got into striking distance by generating a three-run fifth inning.
Aggressive base-running helped the Highlanders get the first run across as Connor Barebo walked, stole second and came home following an errant throw to third after he tried to advance following a groundout.
Andrew Zban laced an RBI double off of Cabell Midland's Derek Adkins to score Jack Brunetti and Zban later scored on an RBI single by Stephen Holland to cut the deficit to 5-3.
The Highlanders' three-run frame matched that put up by Cabell Midland (7-4) in the top of the inning as the Knights took a 5-0 lead.
For Cabell Midland, the success was about making adjustments to in-game scenarios.
After Taylor Kuhn had laced a double to center field on the first pitch of the inning off Kris VanCamp, Brady Elkins followed by depositing the next pitch over the "Huntington Heroes" sign above the elevated left-field wall.
"The first couple of innings he threw to me it was all curveballs, so I knew it was going to come," Elkins said. "I just stayed back, waited on it and hit the ball. If we were playing last night (at Ripley), it wouldn't have meant as much as tonight. It's a bigger deal against them. They're our rival."
Elkins' blast provided the game-winning run as Kinker worked 2.2 innings of relief to get the save and preserve the win for Tyler Hayes, who started the game strong for the Knights.
Hayes allowed just two hits in four innings by mixing up his pitches and allowing his defense to make plays behind him. Huntington High did not have a runner get past second base in Hayes' four frames of work.
Cabell Midland jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the action-packed fifth by putting the ball in play with two outs.
Cody Ballengee's single to left field socred Kuhn with the game's first run in the first inning and Kinker followed suit in the second by ripping a two-out double to the wall to score Wooten just one pitch after getting brushed off the plate.
Ballengee finished 3-for-3 for the Knights while Elkins and Kuhn also had three hits each. Kinker, Wooten and Adkins each had two hits with both of Adkins' hits being doubles.
Zban and Ben Fulks each had two hits for Huntington High.
CABELL MIDLAND 110 030 0 -- 5 15 2
HUNTINGTON HIGH 000 030 0 -- 3 7 0
Hayes, Adkins (5), Kinker (5) and Elkins. VanCamp, Holland (7) and Fulks. Hitting: (CM) Kinker 2-4; Kuhn 3-5, 2B; Elkins 3-5, HR, 2 RBI; Ballengee 3-3, 2B, RBI; Adkins 2-4, 2 2B, RBI; Wooten 2-4. (HH) Zban 2-4, 2B, RBI; Holland RBI; Fulks 2-3.
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