CHAPMANVILLE — It was winner-take-all in the rubber game between the Man High School baseball team and Charleston Catholic on Saturday at Ted Ellis Field in Chapmanville.
The Hillbillies had beaten the Irish last Thursday at the University of Charleston Field and Catholic returned the favor by mercying Man 10-0 on Friday night Logan.
With the Class A sectional championship on the line, it was the Billies which lost a 6-5 heartbreaker, ending Man’s season at 18-13.
Charleston Catholic, ranked No. 2 in the state, moves on to play next week in the regional tourney.
Man led 5-2 but the Irish were able to able to plate four unanswered runs to get the win.
Charleston Catholic jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with two runs in the top of the first inning of play off Man senior starter Nick Carter. Conner Golden led off with a double. Rocco Wilcox then flew out before Ian Lough got hit by a pitch. Then it was cleanup hitter Nelson McKown who ripped a double over Braden Griffin’s head in center field to score both Golden and Lough to give Catholic the 2-0 lead.
Jacob Riggins singled with two outs off Lough, followed by a double by senior Jordan Simpson to put runners on second and third. Lough then got Griffin to ground out to second for the final out of the frame.
Both teams went out one, two, three in the second inning.
Man threated again in the home half of the third stanza as Riggins drew a two-out walk and Simpson singled but Griffin fanned to end the Billies’ threat with the Irish clinging to the 2-0 lead.
Neither team could muster any offense in the fourth frame.
However, in the fifth, the Billies sent nine batters to the plate to take a 5-2 lead.
Carter got things started with a walk. J.T.Twardy reached on a mishandled bunt. Riggins then had an RBI single to make it 2-1. The Irish then intentionally walked Simpson to load the bases. Griffin then ripped a double to clean the bases to give Man a 4-2 advantage. Andrew Merritt and Aaron Willard both walked to load the bases. Man got its final run on the frame on a sac fly by Thomas Blair to give the Billies the 5-2 advantage.
Charleston Catholic’s McKown led off the top of the sixth inning with a double. That prompted Man head coach Larry Vance to go to the mound to bring in the lefty Griffin to pitch.
The Irish then got four straight hits as Griffin could not get the ball down. Kiefer Hovorka singled to make it 5-3. Andy Hoyer then hit a double, scoring Hovorka to cut the Man deficit to 5-4. The game was then tied, 5-5, on Drew Cable’s RBI single. Then what proved to be the game winner, DH Thad Jameson came up with an RBI single to make it 6-5.
Golden then came in to pitch for the Irish in the bottom of the sixth. He allowed a two-out walk to Riggins but was able to get Simpson to pop out to end the threat.
Griffin settled down in the seventh to get the Irish out in order but Man was still down a run and three outs away from defeat.
The Irish went to the bullpen to bring in their No. 2 pitcher, Hoyer, who just pitched six innings in Friday’s mercy-rule game.
Hoyer, the tall 6-foot-4 right-hander, got Griffin to fly out to center and then fanned both Merritt and Willard to get the save, ending Man’s bid for another state tournament appearance.
Nine seniors played their last game for the Billies: Simpson; Riggins; Merritt; Blair; Twardy; Carter; Mike Vitruals; Willard; and Shane Browning.
The Irish outhit Man 9-6. Both teams had no errors.
Simpson and Riggins had two hits each for the Billies. Griffin had a double and three RBI. Blair also had a hit.