CHARLESTON – No matter what the Man High School baseball team did during its second consecutive trip to the West Virginia state high school tournament, senior Braden Griffin had done his part to contribute to the Hillbillies’ remarkable turnaround from a six-win season in 2013.
As a junior, he helped lead the Hillbillies to the school’s first championship and, as a senior, guided Man to a runner-up finish.
His achievements as a 12th-grader earned Griffin first-team captaincy on the Class A All-State Team, as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association with assistance from voting by the state’s prep baseball coaches.
This marks the second consecutive year the West Virginia State University recruit earned first-team All-State honors.
The Hillbillies’ ace pitcher and No. 3 hitter claimed a utility spot, highlighting the 15-player team made up of three pitchers, four infielders, three outfielders, one catcher and four utility spots.
The only other returning first-team selection was Clay-Battelle catcher Kurt Latocha, a senior who is the three-time first-team catcher. Valley-Fayette’s Druw Bowen was a first team pick as a freshman (2013) and sophomore (2014), but transferred to Class AAA George Washington prior to his junior year.
Griffin had another stalwart season for the Hillbillies, batting .441, with 12 home runs, 53 RBI and only 12 strikeouts. As a pitcher, Griffin was 8-3 with a 1.42 earned run average and 129 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings, surrendering six of his season’s 10 earned runs in a 9-8 loss to Class AA Independence.
“There’s been a couple instances where I’ve been upset with myself (this season),” said Griffin, who had double-digit strikeouts in nine of his 10 starts and a season-high 16 against Poca. “I’m not worried about stats, I just like winning. As for me, I’m already going to college. I’m not in it for the flash, I just like to play ball.”
Man reached the state championship game for the second straight year, but dropped a 7-0 decision to Wahama, giving the White Falcons their first state title since 1998.
He has two state tournament pitching victories in his career.
In the last two seasons, the Hillbillies are 40-27 with Griffin batting .463 with 17 home runs, 84 RBI, 41 walks and 27 strikeouts. On the mound, he’s 13-6 with 221 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings and a 1.32 ERA.
“We dealt with a lot of adversity compared to (2014), but as a team, we managed to move people around and do what we had to do to win ballgames,” he said. “We got hot, started hitting the ball when it means something, pitchers throw strikes. When you have a team like we have, when you start playing fundamental baseball, things tend to work out.”
Charleston Catholic’s Sam McKown, a second-team outfielder as a junior, earned a utility spot this season after hitting .410 with 14 doubles and 34 RBI. He also hit for the cycle against regional foe Buffalo. The other utility spots belong to Moorefield senior Austin Williams, who batted just .302, but helped lead the Yellow Jackets to the state tournament with a 5-1 record, 44 strikeouts, just six walks and a 1.33 earned run average in 44 innings.
Clay-Battelle senior Samson Cropper also fills one of the four utility spots, batting .440 with nine triples and 27 RBI to go along with a 7-1 pitching record and a 1.64 ERA in 51 innings.
The pitching staff is made up of seniors Jesse Padlow of Bishop Donahue and Michael Stout of St. Marys and sophomore Phillip Hoffman from Wahama.
Padlow, who pitched in the Class A state tournament semifinals, was 6-1 with a 1.45 ERA entering the final four. Stout, a second-team choice in 2013, was 11-0 with 121 strikeouts in 69.2 innings and a 0.78 ERA. Hoffman, who pitched in the state semifinal of Wahama’s Class A state championship run, had a 0.86 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 49 innings.
The infield has juniors Josh Baker of Notre Dame (.489, 17 D, 4 HR, 48 RBI), Bryce Strawderman of East Hardy (.453, 48 runs) and Brian Campbell of Wheeling Central (.451, 3 HR, 30 RBI), along with senior Jake Boice of Parkersburg Catholic (.531, 11 D, 48 RBI).
East Hardy sophomore Austin Whetzel (.480, 5 HR, 47 RBI), South Harrison junior Ian Riggleman (.439, 10 D, 4 T, 24 RBI) and Williamstown senior Dakota Watson (.588, 5 HR, 21 SB) make up the first team All-State outfield.
* Man High School’s Jake Adkins was voted Special Honorable Mention All-State. Man’s John Thomas Keffer was honorable mention.
The 2015 Class A
Baseball All-State Team
P – Jesse Padlow, Bishop Donahue, Sr.
P – Michael Stout, St. Marys, Sr.
P – Philip Hoffman, Wahama, So.
C – Kurt Latocha, Clay-Battelle, Sr.
IF – Josh Baker, Notre Dame, Jr.
IF – Jake Boice, Parkersburg Catholic, Sr.
IF – Bryce Strawderman, East Hardy, Jr.
IF – Brian Campbell, Wheeling Central, Jr.
OF – Austin Wetzel, East Hardy, So.
OF – Ian Riggleman, South Harrison, Jr.
OF – Dakota Watson, Williamstown, Sr.
UTIL – Braden Griffin, Man, Sr. (capt.)
UTIL – Sam McKown, Charleston Catholic, Sr.
UTIL – Austin Williams, Moorefield, Sr.
UTIL – Samson Cropper, Clay-Battelle, Sr.
P – Jacob Bishop, Greater Beckley Christian, Sr.
P – Kaileb Sheets, Wahama, Jr.
P – Holden Sions, Moorefield, So.
C – Will Schoonover, Moorefield, Jr. (capt.)
IF – Jesse Lambert, Pendleton County, Sr.
IF – Nate Bakaitis, Wheeling Central, Sr.
IF – Drew Lett, Doddridge County, Jr.
IF – Luke Cooper, Paden City, Jr.
OF – Aaron Lowe, Sherman, Sr.
OF – Tim Heavener, Pendleton County, Sr.
OF – Tyler Smith, Moorefield, Sr.
UTIL – Austin Ratliff, Gilmer County, Sr.
UTIL – Jordan Miller, Notre Dame, Jr.
UTIL – Thad Jameson, Charleston Catholic, Sr.
UTIL – Braeden Hurst, South Harrison, Jr.
Special Honorable Mention
Tanner Bragg, Clay-Battelle; Noah Jones, Trinity; Chad Morrison, Notre Dame; Jacob Montgomery, South Harrison; Spencer Harlow, Notre Dame; Wil Mullins, Greater Beckley Christian; Tanner Ray, Greater Beckley Christian; Dustin Yoakum, Greenbrier West; Jordan Covelli, Charleston Catholic; Brandon Buntura, Buffalo; Connor Fields, Buffalo; Jake Adkins, Man; Michael Fox, St. Marys; Andrew Cinalli, Parkersburg Catholic; Landon Travis, Williamstown; Chad Hofstetter, St. Marys; Logan Cooper, Pendleton County; Dakota Vetter, Moorefield; Corey McDonald, East Hardy
Justin Everly, Trinity; Alex Murray, Notre Dame; Dakota Jarrett, South Harrison; Jessy Miller, South Harrison; Dalton Dempsey, Fayetteville; Brett Green, Greater Beckley Christian; Nick Boggess, Greenbrier West; Beau Whittington, Buffalo; Liam Bailey, Charleston Catholic; John Thomas Keffer, Man; Colby Buchanan, Tyler Consolidated; Zach Heasley, Paden City; Trent Hardbarger, Wirt County; Nick Roedersheimer, Parkersburg Catholic; Luke Cooper, Pendleton County; Troy Farrell, Fayetteville.