Hurricane tops Midland 8-3
HURRICANE — Hurricane’s baseball team didn’t get a ton of hits Tuesday evening, but the Redskins made sure the ones they got counted.
Austin Dearing cleared the bases with a double to give Hurricane the lead before Joel Gardner’s three-run home run provided cushion as the Redskins topped Cabell Midland, 8-3, in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 tournament at Lola Meeks Field.
“Any time guys are battling after they fall behind, it shows some character,” Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin said. “That’s a good team and we knew the competition was tough. We just kept chipping away. I was pleased with their effort.”
With the win, Hurricane moves into the sectional championship game, which the Redskins will host at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Redskins will face the winner of Wednesday’s elimination contest between Cabell Midland and Spring Valley. The Spring Valley Timberwolves won Tuesday against Huntington High, 4-3, in 10 innings.
Hurricane only needs one win while a team will have to knock off the Redskins twice to earn the sectional crown.
“No one has won anything yet, but this gives us the opportunity,” Sutphin said. “When we come back out, it will be down to two teams and we’ll see where we’re at.”
Six of Hurricane’s eight runs came on of two swings of the bat by Dearing and Gardner.
The game’s biggest blow came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Gardner lined a pitch over the center-field wall for a three-run home run that provided plenty of cushion for Hurricane starter Jonathan Blackwell.
What made the homer even more tough for Cabell Midland (15-11) was that it came after a two-out error that would’ve ended the inning and a bloop double by Dearing that fell between a pair of Knights in left field.
“You can’t give them second chances and we gave them many second chances,” Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield said. “They took advantage of those second chances.”
Two innings prior, Dearing gave Hurricane (26-3) the lead by clearing the bases with a double down the right-field line.
The hit was Hurricane’s first of the game, but the Redskins loaded the bases by being patient at the plate and working deep into the count. After a pitching change, Dearing jumped on the first pitch, bringing three runs across the plate.
After falling behind early, Blackwell showed his dominance once the Redskins had the lead, allowing just one hit over his final four innings of work before giving way to Mason McKenzie in the seventh.
“I thought he really settled into the game at that point,” Sutphin said.
Cabell Midland jumped out to a 3-0 lead by finding holes against Blackwell in the second inning when three of the teams’ five hits came.
The Knights got on the board in the first when Easton Petitt scored on one of five Hurricane errors. The lead grew in the next inning when Chad Heiner connected for an RBI single and Petitt followed with an RBI groundout in the second inning.