Hurricane gets 2-hit shutout of Huntington in sectional win

May 7, 2019

HURRICANE — Two sophomores took the mound at Hurricane’s Lola Meeks Field Monday in the Redskins’ first-round Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 playoff against Huntington.

Hurricane’s Joel Gardner dominated through five innings while Hutington’s Gabe Carter pitched well but was unable to stop the Redskins as they rolled to an 8-0 win over the younger Highlanders.

Huntington managed just three hits, two off of Gardner, who gave up one walk and struck out six.

“I came out and had good command and wanted to get ahead,” said Gardner who was also 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk. Gardner played third base for two innings when Andrew Dean came in to pitch two innings.

Dean was effective too allowing one hit and striking out two.

Gardner said he wasn’t nervous pitching in a playoff game and said his offense helped relieve a lot of the pressure on him to perform.

Hurricane (26-3) took a 1-0 lead in the first when Quarrier Phillips scored on an Austin Dearing RBI single to center. Dearing went to second on the play but was ruled out when Huntington appealed to the field umpire that the Hurricane slugger never touched first.

Carter limited the damage from Hurricane’s offense by getting out of the inning on a ground ball then held the Redskins scoreless in the second.

In the third, Hurricane’s offense extended the lead.

Tyler Cox led off the inning with a solo home run to right field to make it 2-0. With two outs in the inning, Gardner came through with a single to left field then stole second.

Carter then issued four straight walks to force in two runs before he struck out Matt Vance to end the third.

“I thought he pitched really well considering he’s a sophomore,” Huntington coach Danny Harbert said. “I mean (Hurricane’s) going to get hits but for two innings he kept them off the scoreboard but then issued the consecutive walks in the third.”

Harbert turned to another sophomore in Nolan Cyrus for the fourth inning with Huntington trailing 4-0 but Hurricane got four hits and three earned runs off of him in 2/3 of an inning. Freshman Carter Williams pitched the final 2 1/3 innings for Huntington surrendering three hits to the Redskins.

Hurricane scored its final run off of Williams in the sixth when J.T. Cooper homered into the trees beyond the left field wall that the outfielders barely bothered to chase.

“A big lead helps you establish command and helps control pitches,” Gardner said.

Hurricane will host Cabell Midland Tuesday at Lola Meeks Field for a 6 p.m. start with the winner securing a spot in the sectional final of the double-elimination tournament. The Knights defeated Spring Valley 15-2 on Monday in the other sectional playoff.

The Timberwolves will host Huntington at 6 p.m. in an elimination game at Spring Valley.