AP NEWS

Jake Carr spins 4-hitter as Red Dragons edge Redskins 2-1

March 23, 2019 GMT

HURRICANE, W.Va. — Jake Carr got a little more work than he bargained for Friday evening, and made the most of it.

He went the distance with a four-hitter, working out of some trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning, as St. Albans edged Hurricane 2-1 at chilly, blustery Lola Meeks Field in an early season battle of state Class AAA baseball powers and a rare West Virginia pitching matchup of NCAA Division I recruits.

Hurricane starter Jonathan Blackwell, like Carr a senior left-hander and returning all-state player, went five innings, striking out nine and walking two. Carr, who fanned 10 and walked none, was able to work a complete game simply because he was so efficient through the first five innings, and needed only 82 pitches to go the distance.

“We were hoping to get five good ones out of him and were shooting for about 85 pitches,″ said SA coach Rick Whitman. “But we looked in the fifth inning and he was at like 50 pitches, which is really great, especially with him being a strikeout guy. He was efficient and in command. When he’s like that, he’s going to be tough to beat.″

Through five innings, Carr allowed only one base runner — that on a third-inning double by No. 9 hitter Quarrier Phillips — and needed only one above-average defensive play behind him, a hot smash to third by Joel Gardner that Ridge Lester snagged and threw to first, getting a nice scoop at the bag from Noah Cummings. That helped keep the score at 2-0.

“My command was really good, the best it’s been all year,″ said Carr, who has signed with WVU. “The first game, my back was bothering me and I went to my chiropractor for a week and they popped it back. My hips were out of joint. It’s still a little tight on my left side, but the first game I pitched, I felt so awful. I didn’t feel like myself. I had no torque. I wasn’t throwing near as hard as I did today.″

In the bottom of the seventh, Hurricane (5-1) made it interesting, getting a double from Enzo Lewis and a two-out RBI single by J.T. Cooper to make it 2-1.

Cooper stole second to get the tying run in scoring position, but Carr struck out Cole Bumgarner on a full count to end the game. All three pitchers Friday were sharp, the game was quick, and neither side committed an error, something you’d expect from programs that have captured the last two AAA state titles (SA in 2017, Hurricane in 2018).

“We were excited to come down here,″ Whitman said, “and we knew we were going to see Blackwell and (Tyler) Cox. It’s just a good, clean high school baseball game, especially for this early in the year.″

St. Albans (3-1) went up 2-0 by scoring twice in the top of the first on RBI singles from Nick Loftis and Darin Flowers, who went 2 for 3 with a double.

It remained that way until the final at-bats, thanks in large part to Carr and Blackwell, who has signed with Coastal Carolina. Cox also worked two perfect innings for the Skins.

“I liked that we were aggressive and got a couple big two-out hits in that first inning,″ Whitman said. “Jake was just dominant. If there’s a better pitcher in the state, I don’t know where he’s at. He’s as good as anybody around.″

Both starters were also active in the field. Carr had two putouts and two assists, including a nice 3-1 putout at first on a sharp grounder by Cox in the sixth. Blackwell came up with three assists and got a 2-1 putout at home when courtesy runner Carson McCoy tried to score from third after a pitch bounced away from catcher Lewis.

Blackwell actually worked out of a pair of jams, including the inning-ending tag at home in the fourth, as McCoy was stationed at third with none out. In the fifth, Blackwell stranded the bases loaded by inducing a 1-3 grounder.

“My performance was pretty good,″ Blackwell said. “There were a couple things I could’ve done, slowed myself down, and I missed out a lot. I hung a couple curveballs, just rushing a little bit. Getting out of jams were huge, just to keep us in it, and our team competed. We did our best.″

Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin was satisfied with Blackwell’s outing.

“He got a couple tough breaks early,″ Sutphin said, “but went out and really competed and never lost it. He really beared down. He never wavered, kept battling. Super proud of him and his effort. “It was a good ballgame. You knew with those guys on the mound and it being cold, runs were going to be at a premium.”