Hurricane comes back, knocks out Midland 6-2
HURRICANE, W.Va. — Joel Gardner was clutch for the Hurricane Redskins as they clinched the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 baseball championship Friday with a 6-2 over Cabell Midland at Lola Meeks Field.
The contest was an elimination game after the Knights’ victory Thursday and just like in the Redskins’ sectional opening victory against Huntington High, Gardner couldn’t be solved.
Cabell Midland did strike first with three consecutive singles by Peyton Weekly, Blake Tilley and Brett Armbruster that produced two runs in the top of the first inning. Hurricane answered on a three-run double by J.T. Cooper that put the Redskins in front 3-2 after the first inning.
Hurricane added two more runs in the bottom of the third with three consecutive singles from Dearing, Gardner and Enzo Lewis that gave the Redskins a 5-2 lead.
“I was a little anxious in the first inning but I settled down and threw some ground balls and got out of some big innings,” said Gardner, a sophomore.
Gardner settled down and held the Knights hitless until the fourth inning when Drew Elkins singled to right field.
Elkins’ single, however, had followed Hurricane failing to get the back end of a 6-4-3 double play. Then Clay Holmes was hit by a Gardner pitch that loaded the bases. With two outs, Griffin Adkins’ line drive to right field was played perfectly by Quarrier Phillips to bail the Hurricane sophomore pitcher out of trouble.
Hurricane struck for one run in the bottom of the fourth when Matt Vance was driven in by Gardner, helping his own cause. Gardner batted 2 for 3 with a single, a double and an RBI.
The Knights threatened again in the fifth when Easton Petitt drew a one-out walk and Weekly singled, putting runners at first and second base. Blake Tilley flied out to second base and Armbruster struck out looking to end that threat.
Gardner finished with a strong bottom of the sixth inning facing the Knights’ seven, eight and nine hitters. Gardner got Destyn Kingery to strike out, then got Drew Elkins to fly to right field and struck out Holmes to retire the side in order.
In the fifth inning, Cabell Midland finally slowed the Hurricane offense with Elkins, the Knights’ third pitcher of the game.
Elkins retired the order in the bottom of the fifth with a strikeout of Lewis, and although he hit Cooper with a pitch, a ground ball by Cole Bumgarner forced Cooper out at second. Then Bumgarner was caught stealing second with a dart thrown to second by Weekly.
Elkins struck out the side in the bottom of the inning with an infield error the only blemish on his performance that inning.
In the seventh, Cabell Midland sent the top of the order to the plate in hopes of starting a rally. Those hopes arose slightly with a lead-off single by Adkins. Chad Heiner’s ground ball forced Adkins out at second and Petitt struck out looking. Weekly capped off the Knights’ season with a fly ball to left.
“Coming into that inning I was just looking around,” Weekly said following his final game for Cabell Midland. “I’ve just played with these guys for so long. We’re parting ways on the playing field, but not life. It’s tough. I just love everyone of these guys.”
For Cabell Midland the game was a lesson in missed opportunities. Seven runners were left on base by the Knights versus just three for Hurricane.
Hurricane advances on the Class AAA regional round in preparation for defending its 2018 state championship.
CABELL MIDLAND 200 000 0 - 2 6 2
HURRICANE 302 100 x - 6 5 2
Ellis, Kuhn (3), Elkins (5) and Weekly; Gardner, B. Lewis (7) and E. Lewis.
Hitting: (CM) Weekly 2-3, RBI, Armbruster RBI; (H) Cooper 2B, 3 RBI, Gardner 2-3 2B, RBI.