CHARLESTON — Cabell Midland hung around long enough for its hitting to catch up with its pitching Thursday evening, and it resulted in a conference championship.
Kenyon Collins, the Knights’ No. 9 hitter, laced a two-run double to highlight a four-run sixth-inning rally and send Midland to a 7-3 victory against Hurricane in the Mountain State Athletic Conference title game at Appalachian Power Park.
The game, which was suspended by weather issues on Tuesday, picked up in the bottom of the second inning Thursday.
It’s the 12th straight win for the streaking Knights (19-5), and it denied top-seeded Hurricane (24-4) a second straight MSAC crown.
Noah Jordan picked up the win for Midland, working the first five innings, two of which occurred on Tuesday when the game began. He allowed three hits, struck out six and walked just two. Reliever Aiden McCormill fanned four and permitted one run in two innings.
“(Jordan) did a good job,’’ said Midland coach Tracy Brumfield, “especially with the rain delay the other night and the suspension. I was worried about did he have enough juice and would he feel good about coming back the next day, and he did. As the game went on, he threw even harder and had more velo on it.
“So then our bats came alive and we made some plays. Big game, big game.’’
The game was knotted at 2-all from the top of the third until Midland plated four unearned runs in the top of the sixth against Hurricane’s Bryson Rigney, who took over for Luka Moore, the starter on Tuesday who worked the first two innings before the delay.
The Knights turned in four of their nine hits in the tell-tale sixth, also getting an RBI single from No. 8 hitter Hunter McSweeney before Collins’ key double. The first run, which broke the 2-2 tie, scored on a two-out fielding error.
Midland tacked on an insurance run in the seventh when Jackson Fetty was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Isaac Petitt and Logan Lingenfelter each had two hits for the Knights, who got hits from seven different players. Brumfield was particularly pleased with the production from the bottom of the order.
“They stepped up big this year, the lower part of the lineup,’’ Brumfield said, “and they did it again today.
“Our kids believed. We had a tough opponent tonight and went down 2-1, and the kids fought back and the bats got hot and we put some runs on the board and (McCormill) came in and threw the ball lights out.’’
The game was suspended by thunderstorms Tuesday with Midland leading 1-0 and Hurricane batting in the bottom of the second inning. Lingenfelter doubled for the Knights and eventually scored on a Sam Sowards sacrifice fly.
When the game resumed Thursday, Hurricane took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second on an RBI grounder by Chase Hager and a run-scoring double by Caden Johnson. Midland immediately tied it in the top of the third on an RBI single from Petitt. It remained that way until the Knights burst through in the sixth.
Hurricane was gunning for its eighth MSAC crown, all of them coming since 2007. The Skins’ final run came in the seventh when Johnson tripled and scored on an Ethan Spolarich sac fly. Johnson went 2 for 3 with two extra-base hits.
Redskins coach Brian Sutphin agreed that his team’s two-out error in the sixth that led to Midland’s four-run surge was unfortunate.
“Obviously, it was a big play,’’ Sutphin said, “but at the end of the day, I thought they pitched better than us, they played better than us, they had better at bats than us. They played better.
“Hats off to their pitcher. He threw well and they made plays and we didn’t.’’
Sutphin also pointed to his team’s lack of consistent hitting. The Redskins managed just four hits. After slapping out three in the second inning, they didn’t get another until Johnson’s one-out triple in the seventh.
“When you go from the third through the sixth (without a hit) when the game is in the balance,’’ Sutphin said, “and you’re the home team and you have some opportunities there … we just weren’t sharp today. So we’re looking forward to sectional play and getting the opportunity to make a run.’’