2017-05-31 / Sports

Weir ends Tribe’s baseball season in Region Championship

by Jamie Harris

Baseball fanatics were treated to a thriller this past week between the Berkeley Springs Indians and Weir Red Raiders.

The two teams squared off in a best of three series for the Class AA Region I Baseball Championship. In the final game on Friday, May 26, Weir won the rights to go to the Class AA State Baseball Championship in a 2-1 series.

Both teams put on two dominating offensive performances in the first two games. Game three was a pitching duel for the ages that came down to a walk off single to end the game.

Last Tuesday, May 23 the Berkeley Springs High School Indians made the long three and half hour drive to Weirton for game one of the championship series.

Things did not go right for the Indians all evening as Weir jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead and cruised to a 13-0 win over the Tribe. Berkeley Springs managed only three hits and despite the score made contact with the ball, but each swing of the bat saw the ball go right to a Weir defensive player.

On Wednesday, May 24 the Indians did not have much time to rest after the long drive back for game two. However, the Tribe was able to play in the friendly confines of Morgan Field and this time around Weir had to make the long drive to Morgan County and deal with the road weariness.

In the top of the first inning, Weir took advantage of the Tribe’s senior pitcher Brandon Keenan’s control and scored a run to go up 1-0. Weir increased the lead to 3-0 in the top of the second and looked in firm control of the game and a possible two game sweep of the young Indians baseball team.

Berkeley Springs who has been resilient all season responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs junior Ayden Lackey singled and then scored on sophomore Colby Farris’ RBI double to the left centerfield gap to cut the score to 3-1. With Farris on second base junior right fielder Hunter Andrick stepped up to the plate. Wasting no time Andrick caught a fastball coming down the center of the plate and blasted a two run home run over the left centerfield fence into the bleachers to send the home crowd into a frenzy as the Tribe tied the score 3-3. Weir was able to get out of the inning, but the momentum was on the Indians side and they were not about to let up from there.

After holding Weir scoreless in the top of the third inning the Tribe went back to work. Junior Andrew Butts led off with a double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice by junior Tobin Whittington. Weir’s next pitch to the plate was a wild pitch and Butts took off from third and slid head first into home to give Berkeley Springs the go ahead 4-3 lead. Weir then intentionally walked junior Justin Stone. Stone was replaced with pinch runner Cameron King. King then moved to second on another wild pitch and scored when junior Michael Hovermale drilled a pitch to left field for an RBI single. Hovermale moved to second with a steal and scored when Weir committed a defensive error to give Berkeley Springs a 6-3 lead.

With a lead and an aggressive defense behind him senior pitcher Keenan settled down and found a groove that kept the Weir batter’s out of synch for the rest of the game.

The Tribe would add to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning as Hovermale singled once again. Hovermale would make it to third on an error and was able to score on a wild pitch to give Berkeley Springs a 7-3 lead.

With a four run lead that would be all Keenan and the Tribe would need as Berkeley Springs would not give Weir a chance for a comeback in the final two innings.

With the 7-3 win Berkeley Springs evened the series as one game each and forced a deciding game three back in Weir the next day with weather being a possible issue.

Offensively Berkeley Springs was led by Hovermale who went 2-3 with two singles, two runs and an RBI. Butts went 2-4 with a single, double and a run. Andrick went 1-2 with a home run, run and two RBIs. Farris went 1-3 with a double and an RBI while Lackey went 1-2 with a run to help lead the Tribe offense.

On the mound Keenan went the distance scattering four hits and striking out three.

Defensively the Tribe was great behind their pitcher as junior centerfield Whittington made a nice sliding catch to record an out and the infield of Stone, Butts, Lackey and Hovermale were tough as nails in their positions.

Game three of the championship series was delayed on Thursday due to the weather and moved to Friday, May 26. However the game was not played at Weir, but was moved to nearby Brooke High School.

The final game between Berkeley Springs and Weir was a gem as both team’s starting pitchers kept the opposing offenses in check for the majority of the game.

Berkeley Springs sent Hovermale to the mound and the junior responded with a stellar performance. However, in the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied at 2- 2 and the Indians hoping to force extra innings Weir responded with a walk off two out single to end the Tribe’s season with a 3-2 loss.

Berkeley Springs took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Stone singled and was able to score on a Hovermale single that was misplayed by the Weir right fielder.

The Tribe would keep the lead until the bottom of the fourth when Weir tied the game at 1-1. Berkeley Springs would respond and take the lead back with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Berkeley Springs went ahead 2-1 in the top of the fifth when Hovermale struck out, but reached first on a passed ball. Weir’s catcher misplayed a high chopper by Stone in front of the plate allowing Hovermale to go to second from where he scored on a Butts RBI single.

Weir would battle back once again and tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Both teams would go scoreless in the sixth inning and Berkeley Springs would fail to score in the top of the seventh inning setting up Weir for the chance to win the game in the bottom half of the inning.

Weir loaded the bases with two outs and from there Weir’s Chris Gillette would rip an 0-2 fastball past the diving glove of short stop Butts for an RBI single to score the winning run on third base.

Offensively Berkeley Springs was led by Butts (1-3, RBI), Anthony Clark (1-2), Stone (1-3, run) and Hovermale (1-3, run).

Hovermale went the distance scattering eight hits and striking out one in the loss.

Berkeley Springs finished the season with a 16-15 record and will only lose one senior so the future looks very good for the Tribe baseball program.

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