Berkeley Springs wins "Diamond Battle"
Preston Hovermale out-dueled Hancock's Vinny Foreman in the opening game of the Berkeley Springs Diamond Battle on Saturday, April 22, while Tyler Holt and Jared Spielman silenced Hedgesville's bats in the championship game, as the Indians won the four-team tournament to improve to 11-10 on the year.
The opening game between Berkeley Springs and Hancock was a classic pitchers duel.
The game was scoreless heading to the bottom of the sixth, when Berkeley Springs broke through with the only run Hovermale would need.
With one out, Brady Spielman hit a ball to deep right center that was misplayed by the right fielder. Spielman, who never slowed down from the time the ball left his bat, made it all the way to third and that ended up proving crucial when he scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
"You've got to take your hat off to Brady for the hustle he showed on that play," said Berkeley Springs Coach Ron Bittinger. “He really showed some heart and a true desire to win on those two plays."
The single run was more than enough, as Hovermale dominated the Panther lineup.
Hovermale went the distance for the win, allowing no runs on three hits. Hovermale fanned 13 Panthers and only walked three.
"I was getting pretty nervous about this one," Bittinger said. “Preston Hovermale had been sick all week and missed a couple days of practice, so I didn't really know what kind of performance we'd get from him. Turned out that he was amazing. He pitched his best game of the season. Hancock's pitcher was matching Preston pitch for pitch and did a great job getting himself out of a couple tight spots. We missed several scoring opportunities, because he was able to bear down and get our guys out when he needed to most. I'm really glad we were able to play Hancock this season. We haven't had the chance to play them for several years now."
Hancock did get the tying run into scoring position in the seventh, but Hovermale notched his 13th strikeout to end the game.
Berkeley Springs was also limited to three hits, two from Zach Wise and the other from Scott Hessler.
With the win, Berkeley Springs advanced to the championship game to take on Hedgesville, an 11-4 winner over Lincoln in their opening round match-up.
For the Indians more strong pitching against the Eagles, but also added some much needed offense on their way to six-inning, 12-1, shelling of their Berkeley County neighbor.
"This was one of our best performances of the season and one of the few times we've put together a 'complete' game," said a pleased Bittinger. “Tyler Holt was amazing on the mound again. We had him on a low pitch count, so we pulled him after four innings. Jared (Spielman) came on and locked it down to seal the victory. Jared's been struggling lately, so I think this performance will get him back on track. I think missing all those preseason practices really put him behind and he's been playing catch up all season with command of his pitches. Jared's a great pitcher, so I have all the confidence in the world that he'll be there for us when we need him the most come playoffs."
Holt picked up his sixth win, starting and going the first four innings allowing one run on one hit, striking out five and walking two. Spielman got the save by working two scoreless innings. The hard throwing southpaw did not allow a hit, struck out four and walked two.
Trailing 1-0, Berkeley Springs came up with two runs in the bottom half of the second to take a lead they would not surrender.
Brady Spielman reached on an error, stole second and scored on a single to right by Brett Fultz. Fultz scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to give the Tribe a 2-1 lead.
Berkeley Springs scored three more runs in the third and two more in the fourth to take full control of the game, and then ended the contest with a five-run rally in their half of the sixth.
Jared Spielman led off the third with a single, reached second on a wild pitch and then scored Berkeley Springs third run of the game on Zane Mokhiber's single up the middle. Courtesy runner Brady Crane scored on a sharp grounder to first by Kyle Appel and Kaleb Athey doubled in Fultz, who had drawn a walk to give the Indians a 5-1 lead.
Brady Spielman's home run in the fourth accounted for two more Indian runs. Jared Speilman, who had singled also scored on the play.
Leading 7-1, Berkeley Springs scored five times in their final at bat to end the game.
Mokhiber scored the final run of the game when Hedgesville's second baseman was unable to handle a sharp ground ball off the bat of Appel.
Brady Spielman led the Tribe at the plate with the two-run home run, a single, and three runs scored. Jared Spielman, Wise and Fultz added two singles each, Athey doubled and Mokhiber singled to round out the Indian offense. B. Spielman, Athey and Appel had two RBIs each.
"Our bats have been pretty silent for most of the season, so it was refreshing to see them come alive for this game," Bittinger said. “Brady (Spielman) had another long ball, Jared had a couple hits, Zach Wise continued his hot hitting and Brett Fultz had a couple nice hits. We've been searching for someone to fill the seven spot in our lineup. I've tried several kids there with varying levels of success, and I really put Brett in there on a hunch and it paid off. He doesn't strike out a lot and he always seems to put the ball in play somewhere, so I gave him a shot and he came through in a couple big spots...I'm really proud of him. Overall, I'm really pleased with how the boys played and winning our own tournament was nice, but we really are hungry to win the 'big tournament' in Charleston in May."
Zach Wise was named tournament MVP, while teammates Brady Spielman and Hovermale were named to the All-Tournament team.
Hancock defeated Lincoln 8-3 in the consolation game.
Berkeley Springs was scheduled to host Keyser in a key sectional game on April 24 and will play today, April 25, at Jefferson. The Indians will end the busy week by playing at Washington on April 30 and then hosting Preston County in a double header, beginning at 4:30 p.m., on May 1, before ending the regular season on the road in Paw Paw on May 4.