SOUTH CHARLESTON — Just call them "The Comeback Kids."

Hurricane had to fight its way out of the losers bracket, then had to score two come-from-behind wins over a talented Man team to win the West Virginia 10-12 Little League Baseball state championship — its first since going back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.

The capper was Hurricane's 5-3 win over Man in Friday afternoon's state title game — a rubber match at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.

After falling 3-2 to Man in the first meeting, Hurricane fought out of the losers bracket, topping Jefferson County 9-0 to set up a situation in which they had to beat Man twice. Both wins came in comeback fashion.

Much like Thursday's 7-6 win, Hurricane had to rally again in the championship game.

Down 3-0 after three innings, Hurricane plated five runs in the top of the fourth and held off Man - a team making its first state championship appearance in this age bracket in 50 years.

It was a similar scenario to Thursday's game. Down 6-1, Hurricane rallied with a six-run fourth and eventually defeated Man 7-6, forcing Friday's decisive Game 2.

With the win, Hurricane will represent the state of West Virginia in the 2019 Little League Southeast Region Tournament, set for Aug. 2-7 in Warner Robins, Georgia.

Hurricane All-Stars manager Todd Rigney said his team never gave up.

Rigney was drenched with the ice bucket by his players following the game to the strains of Queen's "We Are the Champions."

"That felt great on a hot day like today, but even if it were cold that still would have felt good," he said.

Hurricane kept battling in the face of adversity, something the team had not seen much in the entire all-star season.

"We had to fight our way out of the losers bracket and come from behind twice to win this thing," Rigney said.

"It was exciting because before the first game against Man we had given up one run in nine games. The kids hadn't seen any adversity, and when we lost we kind of struggled and let our heads down a little bit. We asked them to stay loose and give a little better approach and, my God, they did."

Rigney said his team sacrificed a lot but were able to see the hard work pay off.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "These kids gave up their summer on June 5 whenever we started practicing. The sacrifices that they've made is unbelievable. To see the excitement on their faces was special."

Man jumped on top of Hurricane with a two-run first, courtesy of an RBI triple from Braxton Messer and a sacrifice fly from Cody Walls, and later tallied another in the third when Messer doubled and scored on an error to push the lead to 3-0.

Hurricane then went to work in the top of the fourth, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five runs to go on top 5-3.

Jacob Fitzsimmons and Larry Hodges each had RBI singles before Carson O'Dell walked with the bases loaded to tie it.

Another bases-loaded walk - this one to Weston Smith - gave Hurricane the lead before Wesley Sutton scored on a passed ball to make it a 5-3 ballgame.

Sutton pitched the complete-game win for Hurricane, going six innings and allowing three runs on three hits with five strikeouts, two walks and two hit batsmen.

Messer, who started on the mound for Man, finished 2 for 2 with a double and triple to lead Man.

"It was an amazing series," Rigney said about the three Man games. "He (Messer) is one of the best athletes that I've ever seen and to go toe-to-toe with him and be able to come out victorious, that just speaks about the resilience of our kids. He had us there for a while and we just kept battling and battling and we got a few breaks. That's what it takes."

Man was looking for its first Little League state title of any kind. Man honored its 1969 state runner-up team just this spring.

"This means a lot," a gracious Man manager Rob Compton said after the game.

"These boys have worked very hard. All year-round they have been working. We came up short, but that's the game of baseball and things happen. It was a good series with Hurricane and wished it could have lasted a couple more. We were so close but we aren't going to give up. These are a good bunch of kids."

Hurricane now shifts its focus to the Little League Southeast Region Tournament where it will join state champions from Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama. Hurricane opens play at 7 p.m. on Friday against Georgia.

"I think they will have to worry about the competition from the state of West Virginia," Rigley said. "We are going down there deep in pitching. What we just did to an unbelievable Man team and a Jefferson team, I think some of those teams will have to kind of worry about us a little."


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