CHARLESTON — It was another great run by the Chapmanville Regional High School baseball team but it fell short on Saturday in the Class AA state championship game at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park as the Tigers fell 5-0 to Bridgeport in the finals.
Chapmanville, an 8-5 winner over Oak Glen in Friday morning’s state semifinals, saw its season come to a close at 30-6.
Bridgeport, which beat Chapmanville 3-1 in last year’s state tournament semifinals, claimed back-to-back state baseball championships, matching the two titles in a row won by the school’s football team. The Indians closed out with a 37-3 record.
Chapmanville and Bridgeport were expected to meet in the finals and the two heavyweights matched up on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers couldn’t get anything going against Bridgeport pitcher Jerod Cleghorn, who tossed a complete-game two-hitter with five strikeouts and two walks and upped his record to 8-0 on the season.
Chapmanville’s only two hits were Chris Bailey’s leadoff single in the fourth and Tyler Neil’s two-out infield single in the fifth.
Bridgeport plated two runs in the bottom of the first off Chapmanville starter Trey Dalton and never looked back.
The Indians tacked on two more in the third and one more in the sixth.
Dalton went all six innings for Chapmanville and gave up five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter.
Just like last year in the state tournament, the Tigers weren’t able to give Dalton any run support. Last year against Bridgeport, Chapmanville only scored one run. This time it was no runs.
Despite the loss, it was another great run by the CRHS baseball team, which went further than it did last year.
“We’re extremely proud,” Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis said. “We’re happy to get this far. We’re not satisfied because this is not what we wanted but Bridgeport is a great team and they just beat us today.”
Bridgeport coach Robert Shields said Cleghorn was on his game.
“He was on target today and very focused,” Shields said. “This championship means a lot. In 1992, 1993 and 1994, we were here all in a row and those were very, very good ball players. We didn’t get the opportunity to win back-to-back titles then. But I’m so proud of this group and these young men. To win 37 of 40 ballgames is just a great job.”
Bridgeport jumped on top of the Tigers 2-0 in the first inning.
Dante Bonamico was hit by a pitch and then scored on Houston Morris’ RBI single. It was soon 2-0 after an infield RBI single off the bat of Hunter Fain.
“I don’t think they got a clean hit in the first inning,” Ellis said. “We hit a guy and we booted a ball. The things you can’t do again them we came out and did against them early. They’re too good to fall behind against. They’re a complete baseball team.”
Ellis said, however, that Cleghorn pitched a fantastic game.
“He threw the ball well,” Ellis said. “He kept the ball down, mixed it up, changed the speeds and had everything going. We centered him up a few times and hit the ball really hard but it seemed like every time we hit the ball hard we hit it right at people. They made some outstanding plays and they are an outstanding team. They just beat us.”
The Indians pushed their lead out to 4-0 in the third with an RBI double off the bat of Joe LaRocca and another RBI single by Morris.
In the sixth, Bridgeport padded its lead as Zack Hineman had an infield single and then scored on DH Elijah Drummond’s RBI double which went deep to the left centerfield wall.
The Tigers never threatened to score and didn’t have a runner reach second base the entire game.
Bridgeport became the first Class AA program to win back-to-back baseball titles since Winfield in 2001 and 2002.
Chapmanville’s Tristan Thompson, Jacob Dingess and Bailey were all named to the all-tournament team.
Will the Tigers be back in 2016?
However, Chapmanville will have some serious rebuilding to do as seven seniors starters — Dalton, Thompson, Josh Browning, Neil, Austin Ellis, Jordan Cook and Joe Zigmond — will be lost to graduation.
“We lose quite a few but don’t count us out,” Ellis said. “We’ve got a class act program down at Chapmanville. We’ve got a team and we’ll be back.