Knights rip SV, 15-2
SPRING VALLEY — Monday’s contest between Cabell Midland and Spring Valley proved there is not a wide gap between success and failure once the baseball postseason gets underway.
All it took was one big defensive play and one offensive adjustment to flip momentum and open the flood gates as Cabell Midland topped Spring Valley, 15-2, in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 opener for both teams at Spring Valley on Monday night.
With the win, Cabell Midland (15-10) travels to Hurricane at 6 p.m. on Tuesday to take on the Redskins in the winner’s bracket. The Redskins earned an 8-0 win over Huntington, who will travel to Spring Valley at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in an elimination game.
“That’s a good win for us,” Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield said. “We were tough when we had to be and we got the ball in play.”
Momentum swung in the bottom of the third inning as the Timberwolves got runners on first and second with no outs, but were unable to scrape together the game’s first run. Marshall signee Cody Sharp, Spring Valley’s lefty cleanup hitter, made a correct read as the Cabell Midland defense played back on the left side and he tried to execute a bunt to the left side that likely would’ve ended with bases loaded and no outs.
However, Cabell Midland pitcher Chad Heiner fired off the mound after seeing Sharp square around and made a sprawling catch to his right for the inning’s first out. Heiner
then forged a flyout before ending the frame with a strikeout, which sent the Knights to the dugout with enthusiasm.
“I feel like that definitely got everybody’s heads up some - especially when we got out of that inning,” Heiner said. “That just spiked everything.”
Cabell Midland (15-10) turned the momentum from that play into instant offense by making an adjustment at the plate against Spring Valley starter Wyatt Milum.
“Early in the game, we were swinging at pitches up and Easton Petitt said, ‘We’re laying off the high pitch now,’” Brumfield said. “Early on, we had some guys on and stole bases, but we were swinging at the high pitch. As the game wore on, we laid off of it and they got themselves in trouble with walks.”
Milum cruised through the first three innings, but the momentum-switch and the offensive adjustment by Cabell Midland ran Milum into trouble in the fourth.
The Timberwolves’ junior lefty struggled to find the zone, walking the first three batters of the inning before an error plated the game’s first run.
From there, the wheels started to fall off for Spring Valley (17-10) and Cabell Midland took full advantage, plating seven runs in the frame on just two hits. Instead, the damage came due to four walks and three errors in the frame by the Timberwolves.
There were only two balls hit out of the infield in the frame - an RBI single to left field by Heiner and a fly ball by Petitt to right field that was dropped, which resulted in three runs scored.
“Each of the first three innings, we had two runners on and didn’t get anything out of it,” Spring Valley coach Austin Pratt said. “The game was moving fairly smooth to that point and quickly got out of hand. We started walking some, made a few costly errors. Credit Midland for putting the ball in play when they had runners on.”
Cabell Midland bat ted around for the second-straight frame in the top of the fifth, plating eight runs on just four hits to lead 15-0 — a stark contrast to the first three innings which went by scoreless. Petitt and Brent Armbruster added two-run hits in the fifth.
“You’re dealing with high school kids,” Pratt said. “They get down on themselves. Midland brought a big crowd and they were loud in the dugout. Who knows? It may have gotten to our guys, but I preach it all the time — we’ve got to get past it and be mentally tough. We’ve got to realize it’s a long ballgame.”
In all, Spring Valley walked 11 batters, hit one other and committed the three errors, which all came in one inning.
Early, it appeared the game may go to the wire with both Milum and Heiner going at each other.
In the first three innings, Milum struck out six while Heiner allowed two baserunners in each frame, only to wiggle out of danger.
“Chad got himself in a little bit of trouble, but then he got himself out of it,” Brumfield said.
“That’s a credit to him because he could’ve quit and went down south really quick, but he bowed his neck and shut them down. Through three innings, it was a 0-0 game, if I’m not mistaken. At that point, I thought it would be a 1-0 game in the seventh.”