Red Dragons unstoppable by Patriots, Hurricane
CHARLESTON – St. Albans had never been the last team standing when a West Virginia high school baseball season ended.
Most of the past history of Red Dragon baseball was shuttled into the dimly-lit background after last Saturday’s 8-2 win over Hurricane that secured the school’s first-ever, big school state title. The sophomore-laden Red Dragons had come with a rush in the middle and late innings to defeat Washington, 16-6, in Friday’s Class AAA semifinals held at Allegheny Power Park in mid-town Charleston.
Washington, the Region 2 champion with a Sectional conquest of Jefferson and a two-game sweep of Hedgesville in the Regional, had a 6-2 lead after just two innings when it routed St. Albans southpaw starter Jake Carr. Carr, only a sophomore, would later damage the Patriots with his three RBIs as the Red Dragons scored the game’s last 14 runs.
A three-run double from Spencer Delawder and two-run double by catcher Cameron Pine had highlighted a five-run second inning explosion by the Patriots that gave them a short-lived 6-2 lead.
But St. Albans brought in right-hander Nick Loftus to replace Carr to begin the third.
Loftus would allow only one hit in his four innings of shutout work … and St. Albans would reward his steady strike-throwing efforts with a nearby five-run inning of its own.
Vital, two-out RBI hits would carry the Red Dragons into the finals. No fewer than 11 of St. Albans runs came with two outs.
Chayce Matheny had an important two-out hit in the third that lifted St. Albans into a 7-6 lead … a lead that was zealously protected by Loftus.
It was much more than clutch hits that buoyed the Red Dragons as they first chased Washington starter Jack Dubyak and then scored more runs against all his replacements Culen Watson, Craig Link and Nathan Kerr.
The Red Dragons used an outfield error, a series of walks and hit batsmen and a never-ending stream of two-out line drives to overcome their four-run deficit.
It was still only an 8-6 St. Albans lead when a disastrous sixth-inning befell the Patriots.
In a whirlwind of base runners and timely, run-scoring hits, the Red Dragons counted eight runs … and in a matter of minutes a close, two-run game was over. Eight runs seemed to pour across the plate. St. Albans took extra bases on misguided outfield throws, scored on a wild pitch, and erupted so fast and furious that the game was over before most people noticed the lead had mushroomed so quickly.
It was 16-6. The 10-run mercy rule was invoked. The dust hadn’t settled and Washington’s season was no more.
The Patriots finished with a 24-7 overall record. St. Albans was off to the finals against Hurricane, a 10-0, winner over Morgantown in the other semifinal match, with a 31-9 record.
Washington’s own five-run inning had been trumped by the five-run and eight-run scrambles from the hustling Red Dragons.
Loftus had completely muffled the Patriot bats. And Carr and Taylor White had each provided three RBIs to the winning Red Dragon total.
Big-inning baseball. St. Albans style. For the first time at the state tournament level.