CHAPMANVILLE — Jordan Banks honored the late Larry Coffindaffer the best way he could — by delivering the game winning hit in the Chapmanville Regional High School baseball team’s 4-3 victory over regional rival Wayne on Friday night at the annual Daffer Memorial Tournament at Chapmanville’s Ted Ellis Field.
It was one first baseman’s ode to another.
Banks, Chapmanville’s all-state first-sacker, crushed a deep fly ball to the warning track in left center in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring courtesy runner Tyler Neil all the way from first base, for the walk-off triple and game winner.
Coffindaffer was an all-state first baseman for Chapmanville in the late 1990s and was a starter on the Tigers’ 1997 Class AA state championship team. He later went on to play at Marshall University before passing away 11 years ago.
Ever since, the Chapmanville baseball team has held the annual tournament in his memory.
And a memorable win it was for the Tigers.
Chapmanville trailed Wayne 3-0 before rallying for three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
It was a much needed win and confidence booster for the struggling Tigers, which managed just one hit in a 3-0 loss on Thursday night at home to Belfry, Ky. Chapmanville had been pounded by the Poca Dots 9-2 on Tuesday night, also at home.
Not wanting the fall below the sub .500 psychological barrier, Class AA No. 7-ranked Chapmanville instead improved to 9-8 overall and 4-3 in the Cardinal Conference with the league win. No. 10 Wayne dropped to 8-7.
It was the fourth win in a row by the Tigers over the Pioneers. Chapmanville won all three meetings last season, including a 14-6 romp at Wayne in the Class AA regional semifinals en route to the state championship.
The two teams are most likely on a collision course for the regional semifinals again this year, but the game this time will be played at Chapmanville.
Not lost in Friday night’s thriller was a brilliant pitching performance by Chapmanville senior Tyler Cox, who notched the win. Cox fired a complete game, hurling seven strong innings and allowing three runs and six hits with 11 strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter.
Wayne left-hander Tyler Adkins was tagged with the loss. Adkins also threw well as he fanned 13 and walked four in a worksheet which spanned 6 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs and six hits on the night.
Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis said he hopes the win over the Pioneers is a turning point to the season.
“It was a great win for us,” Ellis said. “Wayne is a good team and they have a good program. They are also a regional opponent. I am just proud of our guys. Even though we have been struggling offensively, we know that we’ve got good hitters. Right now, it’s mental. They just hung in there and kept fighting. We got the three runs on the board in the fifth and gave ourselves a chance. Banks came through there in the seventh.”
With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh, Wayne had runners on second and third via a walk and an intentional walk with two outs.
The Pioneers then gambled as Ryan Harless got a jump and big lead off third base and broke for home.
He was a dead duck.
Cox fired the pitch to Chapmanville freshman catcher Jordan Cook and Harless was easily tagged out with several feet to spare on the attempted steal of home.
End of the inning.
It turned out to be a poor call by the Pioneers.
Chapmanville then felt good about its chances in the last half of the seventh with the top of the order coming up in Cox, Cook, Banks and third baseman Joe Woody.
“I told one of my assistant coaches that if we can get them out in the top of the seventh we’re going to win it in the bottom of the seventh,” Ellis said. “We’ve got five seniors in our top six hitters in the order and they’ve been through it. If we can get all of those guys hot we could be a tough out come tournament time.”
Ellis said Cox had good velocity on his fast ball and was able to keep Wayne hitters back on their heels.
“Cox has been throwing the ball really well. His last three outings have been excellent,” Ellis said. “He only had the one bad outing and his arm was sore that day. We didn’t find out until afterwards. Over at Nitro last week when he threw over there he stayed right at 85 to 86 and he topped out at 89. He can get it up there when he wants to.”
Had the game gone to extra innings, Ellis said he was going to his bullpen.
“He (Cox) was getting up there on pitch count and May right now is more important,” Ellis said. “I already told Tyler Killen that he was going in if it went to the eighth. We would have extended him to the eighth if his pitch count was low but he was already at 117 so we said that would be it. May 8 is when the real season begins.”
It was a rewarding win for Tiger fans who stuck around.
The game didn’t get started until 9:05 p.m. and didn’t finish until 11:25 — just a mere 35 minutes from the witching hour. The game was originally scheduled to get under way around 7 p.m.
The reason for the late start was the previous Daffer Memorial Tournament game between Nitro and Capital, which went three hours with the Nitro Wildcats coming out on top 16-10 over the Cougars in a Class AAA game which featured 21 base hits.
Capital also reportedly arrived late for the game, which further backed things up.
The Daffer tourney was scheduled to concluded on Saturday as Chapmanville faced Capital and Wayne battled with Nitro, led by head coach Steve Pritchard, a Chapmanville High School graduate.
“Winning tonight made it a little bit better because I have to get up early in the morning and get back here,” Ellis said when asked about the late start. “When you are winning things seem to roll for you. When you aren’t it seems like every little thing goes against you.”
Both Chapmanville and Wayne had six hits and two errors on the night.
Banks was 2-for-4 at the plate with a triple, a double and two RBI. Cox also tripled for the Tigers. Woody, Tyler Collins and Tyler Killen all had singles. Killen also had an RBI.
The Pioneers got two hits each from Harless and the pitcher Adkins.
Wayne went up 1-0 in the top of the first as lead off man Harless was hit by a pitch, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to right center by Adkins.
Wayne then upped its margin to 3-0 in the fifth as Adkins ripped an RBI single to left which got past Chapmanville left fielder Brady Cox for an error, also scoring Harless.
The Tigers then got back into the game in the bottom of the fifth.
Cox clubbed a one-out triple deep to right center to get things started. He then scored on a Wayne error to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
The left-handed hitting Banks then crushed an opposite field double to left, slicing Wayne’s lead to 3-2.
Then it was Killen who drilled an RBI single to right to tie the game 3-3. The relay throw to the plate got past Wayne catcher Zack Cassidy and rolled near the Pioneer dugout. Chapmanville tried to capitalize on the Wayne mistake, sending Woody home, too, but the Chapmanville third baseman was tagged out on a bang-bang play at the plate to end the inning.
It all worked out in the end, however, for the Tigers, which went 4-0 against the Pioneers over the course of the last two years.
After Saturday’s Daffer tourney game, CRHS is back at home on Monday for a 7 p.m. Cardinal Conference contest against Herbert Hoover. The two teams split last year in a doubleheader.
The Tigers are at Scott on Tuesday and host Sissonville on Thursday night.
All four Daffer tourney teams wore special black 21 bats to honor the fallen Tiger player. Coffindaffer wore jersey number 21 for the Tigers.