BARBOURSVILLE - Three of the final four teams left in the 8-10 year-old division of the West Virginia Little League tournament met Monday for a chance to face Jefferson Tuesday.
Hurricane passed a difficult test in winning both games to earn its way into a position where wins Tuesday and Wednesday would give the Putnam County nine the championship.
Hurricane defeated Bridgeport 7-1 to start the evening and earned the right to face Barboursville in a second elimination game where it faced little difficulty in dispatching the District 1 champions 15-4 in four innings. Both teams came out swinging, scoring six combined runs in the first inning with the hosts holding a 4-2 advantage. Hurricane stormed back in the third to take the lead while its pitching and defense settled in to keep Barboursville scoreless in the second and third innings behind solid relief pitching from Ethan Stover.
Ryan Bowmen finished 3 for 4 from the plate against Barboursville with an RBI while Stover backed up his pitching with his bat.
Stover doubled, scored and drove in four runs to lead his team in that category.
The doubleheader for Hurricane was a challenging situation for head coach Craig Coleman.
"It's not easy. I think the biggest thing is you go through some pitching," Coleman said. "You know you have the heat too."
The heat was all Hurricane, though. It had 14 hits against Barboursville and six against Bridgeport.
Unlike the 4-3 defeat to Bridgeport Friday, Hurricane struck in the first inning to take a lead it never relinquished.
Tyler Baxter and Judson Witt each had two of Hurricane's six team hits in the win over Bridgeport. Witt and Stover each drove in two runs to lead Hurricane in the win. Bowman pitched all six innings of the win over Bridgeport allowing five hits, one unearned run while walking three and striking out three.
Through it all, Jefferson got to stay in its hotel and out of the heat while the three other teams slugged it out. In three games, Jefferson has merely allowed four runs - all against its opener versus Milton - including an 6-0 shutout over Barboursville Sunday that sent the hosts to the consolation bracket.
Coleman said his team was in good shape for the final.
"As good as shape as we can be after a doubleheader," he said.
Hurricane and Jefferson meet for the first time in the tournament at 6 p.m. Tuesday. A Jefferson win gives it the championship while a Hurricane victory would force a decisive game Wednesday.
BRIDGEPORT 000 100 -- 1 5 1
HURRICANE 240 10x -- 7 6 0
WP - Bowman.
BARBOURSVILLE 400 000 - 4 3 3
HURRICANE 23(10) x - 15 12 1
WP - Stover.