Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP BASEBALL, CLASS AAA REGION 4 FINAL - NITRO 11, HURRICANE 6 ; Long Balls Carry Nitro Past Hurricane

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP BASEBALL, CLASS AAA REGION 4 FINAL - NITRO 11, HURRICANE 6 ; Long Balls Carry Nitro Past Hurricane

Article excerpt

HURRICANE - In the type of game that few could have anticipated, Nitro proved resourceful enough to do what's become expected - win and advance to the state tournament. Matt Jewell launched a three- run home run to break a 5-all tie in the top of the fourth inning Wednesday night and the Wildcats outslugged Hurricane 11-6 in the Class AAA Region 4 finals at Lola Meeks Field.

The victory sends the Wildcats (22-10) into the state tournament for the eighth time in 10 years, where they lock up with Ripley at approximately 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 at Appalachian Power Park.

Nitro had four different players sock home runs, with Andrew Stone adding a three-run blast in the sixth to make it 11-5. Eddie Flores drilled a two-run shot in the first to help the Wildcats grab a quick 4-0 lead with four unearned runs against Garrett Gress. With each team starting its ace, hardly anyone expected balls to fly out of the park or the scoreboard to rack up so many runs.

Adding to the intrigue, Hurricane (27-8) shrugged off that early 4-0 hole to actually take a 5-4 lead against Nitro's Jacob Bradley (9-1), the Marshall signee who entered the game with a 0.67 ERA. Jewell's homer changed all that, however, and Bradley limited the Redskins to one run and four hits over the final five innings.

"That's how baseball is sometimes," said Nitro coach Joe Gayda. "There's always things that happen that are unexpected.

"When we scored a run in the first, I was like, OK, let's see what Jake can do.' But you've got to be mentally tough and it's always on to the next play. If Jake would've shut it down there early, we'd have been in trouble."

After Hurricane rallied into its 5-4 lead, Nitro started the fourth with a solo homer from Jason Douglas (3 for 4) to tie it. A two-out double by Stone (3 for 4) was followed by an intentional walk to Matt Harrison, Nitro's top hitter who had blasted a three- run homer against Hurricane in his team's 3-1 MSAC title game victory three weeks ago.

Redskins coach Brian Sutphin was simply playing the percentages to set up a forceout at any base, but Jewell thwarted the strategy by lifting the ball over the fence for an 8-5 lead. …

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