Gardner pitches Redskins to states
PARKERSBURG — A two-out, three-run top of the fourth inning gave Hurricane pitcher Joel Gardner all the support he needed Tuesday evening at Hank Greenburg Field in the Class AAA, Region IV baseball tournament.
The Hurricane sophomore right-hander had 11 strikeouts in a complete-game three-hitter to help lift the Redskins past Parkersburg South, 5-1, and punch the defending state champions’ ticket back to the state tournament at Appalachian Power Park.
A day after Coastal Carolina University-bound lefty Jonathan Blackwell tossed a three-hit shutout with 11 punchouts against PSHS in the opener of the best-of-three regional, Caldwell was on his game most of the evening.
Parkersburg South (20-13) got its lone tally in the third inning when Nathan Currey walked, stole second, went to third on an errant Gardner pick-off attempt and crossed to make it a 2-1 game on Nick Yoho’s sacrifice fly.
After Currey got on, Gardner retired eight straight before Currey reached on an error in the fifth inning. Losing pitcher Colin Bryant followed with a single to center, but the Patriots couldn’t score.
Blake McMullen had a one-out single in the sixth and Jared
Clemente had a two-out infield single, but Gardner got Chase Dunbar to ground out.
In the last of the seventh, Parkersburg South loaded the bases thanks to a Dustin Corley base on balls, Currey getting nicked in the helmet and Blake McMullen reaching on an error. However, Grant Hussey popped out to Hurricane third baseman Tyler Cox to end it.
Hurricane will carry a 31-4 record into the state tournament.
Bryant, who allowed five hits, four earned and had a quartet of walks with two strikeouts, plunked Cox to open the game. After he walked Quarrier Phillips, Austin Dearing followed with a run-scoring single to left. An outfield throwing error allowed Phillips to score on the play.
The Patriot lefty had a 1-2-3 second inning and started an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play in the third, but things went awry in the top of the fourth inning.
Gardner walked, stole second and moved to third base following a one-out passed ball. The pitcher, though, was gunned down at the plate when J.T. Cooper hit a grounder to McMullen and the shortstop fired home where Yoho applied the tag. Cooper proceeded to steal second and after Cole Bumgarner walked, Brenden Lewis had an RBI single to right. A second run scored on a Patriot throwing error and Matt Vance’s RBI knock made it 5-1.