Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP BASEBALL - STATE TOURNAMENT ; STONE'S THROW; Nitro Senior Goes from Mound Afterthought to Staff Co- Anchor

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

PREP BASEBALL - STATE TOURNAMENT ; STONE'S THROW; Nitro Senior Goes from Mound Afterthought to Staff Co- Anchor

Article excerpt

When Kipp Brewer - the team's only senior - graduated last spring, Nitro started a search for a No. 2 pitcher to pair with returning ace Jacob Bradley. Turns out the Wildcats had the man they needed on their roster all along.

Infielder Andrew Stone, in less than year's time, has morphed into a solid option on the mound for the Wildcats (22-10), and is a big reason why they've advanced to the Class AAA state tournament for the eighth time in 10 seasons.

A bit pitcher in his first three seasons with the program, Stone has developed into such a fierce competitor on the mound that first- year coach Joe Gayda now considers him better than the team's No. 2 hurler - sort of 1A next to all-stater and Marshall signee Bradley.

"I've talked to our pitching coach, Dave Sneed," Gayda said, "and it's almost like we can say we have two No. 1s. Obviously Jacob Bradley is No. 1, but I wouldn't call Stone No. 2. Maybe No. 1 1/2 almost. He's right there. He's pitched in big games, just as big as Jake, and done phenomenal."

In fact, Stone started the first game of last week's regionals against Point Pleasant and worked a complete game as Nitro won 3-1, striking out four and walking none. He retired the Big Blacks in order over the final two innings on just 17 pitches.

The improvement in Stone's numbers during his senior season borders on shocking.

Last year, pitching just 21 2/3 innings over seven games and five starts, he was 2-0 with a 3.88 ERA. He allowed 33 hits in that body of work, striking out 13 and walking 10.

Fast forward to this year, and Stone's totals are nearly off the charts - a 7-1 record, 0.94 ERA (even better than Bradley's 1.07) and 52 1/3 innings in 10 appearances, including eight starts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is an outstanding 66-9, and he's permitted only 44 hits in his 50-plus innings.

So what prompted this sudden transformation? Stone credited an off-season throwing program in which he and Bradley took part, and the guidance he received from J. …

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