Midland rallies to beat Spring Valley
HUNTINGTON -- Cabell Midland baseball's Cody Ballengee only had one hit against Spring Valley Thursday night.
But it was a big one.
Trailing the Timberwolves 6-5 in the top of the seventh inning, Ballengee hit a leadoff home run that tied the game and would send it to extra innings.
From there, the Knights were able to push across a run in the top of the 8th, and Spring Valley went three up, three down in its at-bat, falling to Midland 7-6 in the best of three series to determine the Region IV, Section 2 champ.
"It was up in the zone, it was a fast ball and I was looking fast ball so I just turned on it," Ballangee said of the pitch that he sent over the left center fence at Huntington High's Cook-Holbrook Field. "It felt great, honestly, knowing that we had the game tied up."
In a game that was at its essence a slug-fest, Spring Valley brought the bats and out-hit Midland for the most part, but the Knights took advantage of four Spring Valley errors and were able to move runners into scoring position to stay in the game.
"They answered us by putting the ball in play," said Spring Valley coach Jim Hensley. "They gave us an opportunity to make an error and we did."
The winning run was scored by Eric Wooten, who led off the top of the eighth with a single. A balk moved Wooten to second, and then he took third on a sacrifice bunt from Jacob Bearhs. Midland's Taylor Kuhn then picked up his one hit of the night, an RBI single that went just past the short-stop's glove to bring Wooten home.
"Beahrs made a terrific bunt and that brought the infield in," said Midland coach Tracy Brumfield. "Their short-stop made a great effort, but if Eric isn't standing their on third, he's not playing in and they probably make that play. Everybody wants to talk about home runs, but it was a play that Beahrs made that made the difference.
"We preach to our kids, get the ball down, get it in play, and he did his job."
Coming up after Kuhn was Midland short-stop Seth Kinker, who got hit in the head by a pitch.
Kinker was obviously all right, though. He came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and got the Wolves to go down in order to secure the win.
"He did what we expect of him," Brumfield said. "He knows what his job is in that situation and he came in and executed."
Spring Valley, which was down 2-0 after an inning and a half, had leads of 4-2, 6-4 and 6-5 before Ballangee's blast.
The Timberwolves got strong hitting from Greg Herbert, who went 3-4 with a double and three RBI, and Kaleb Frye, who hit two doubles and also knocked in three runs.
"They kept us in the game," Hensley said.
The second game in the series takes place Saturday evening at 6 p.m.
"We have to keep our mind-set, they've got a great program and right now they're two and one against us on the year," Brumfield said. "So these kids have to come back ready to play ball or they're going to get win number three."
Hensley said his team, too, has to be in the right frame of mind to come back against Midland.
"These guys are still down on themselves from strikeouts or balls they booted five games ago," Hensley said. "They've got to correct that. Tomorrow's do-or-die. If you aren't ready to play, stay at the house. We've got six or seven seniors here, how can you not want to play tomorrow?"
CABELL MIDLAND 110 021 11 -- 7 9 0
SPRING VALLEY 020 220 00 -- 6 10 4
Adkins (3), Hayes, Kinker and Elkins; Radcliffe (5), Meade and Frye, Radcliffe
Hitting: (CM) Ballangee HR, RBI, Cantebury 3-3, 2B, RBI; (SV) Herbert 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, Frye 2-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, Wellman 2-4.