Redskins gain upper hand in regional tourney opener
HURRICANE, W.Va. — After digging a hole for itself during the sectional tournament, Hurricane made sure it didn’t repeat that performance in the opening game of the regional.
Noah Birthisel went 4 for 4 with three runs batted in Tuesday to lead the Redskins (29-4) to a 12-2 mercy rule-shortened victory over Parkersburg South (17-5) in the Class AAA, Region IV high school baseball tournament opener at Lola Meeks Field.
The best-of-three series continued at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Parkersburg South. That game was not complete by press time.
“For sure,” Birthisel said after being asked if the sectional tournament-opening loss to Spring Valley was on his mind entering regional play. Hurricane beat the Timberwolves two straight to win Section 2 the hard way.
The South Patriots led briefly, as Todd Burner homered in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. The Redskins, though, scored three times in the bottom of the first. Birthisel drove in the third run after fouling off five pitches behind 0-2 in the count.
Hurricane took control with four runs in the second as Jake Allen drove in two runs and Tyler Cox and Birthisel one each.
In the fourth, South pulled within 7-2 when Drew Cochran walked with the bases loaded, forcing in Reese Fletcher. Hurricane pitcher Jonathan Blackwell regrouped, however, striking out Drew McMullen and coaxing Jarrett Flynn to hit into a double play.
Blackwell worked out of several jams. The left-hander allowed five hits, struck out 13 and walked four. He hit one batter.
“Jon was giving it all he had,” Redskins coach Brian Sutphin said. “At times, he just got out of rhythm, but he pitched well.”
The Patriots didn’t take advantage, stranding eight base runners.
In the fourth, Birthisel drove in Noah Short to make it 8-2. Short and Dunham drove in a run each in the fifth. In the sixth, Cole Bumgardner scored on an error, then Chandler Kelley singled to plate Kelley with the final run.
Birthisel said he feels good about the victory, but said work needs to be done to clinch a state tournament berth.
“This game’s over,” Birthisel said. “We can’t go up there thinking we’re going to win by 10. South’s a good opponent and we have to play well.”
Dunham finished 2 for 2 with one RBI. Cox was 2 for 4 and drove in one. Short was 1 for 1 with two walks, a sacrifice fly, a double and two RBIs. Allen went 2 for 2 with a pair of walks and two RBIs.
For South, Nick Yoho was 2 for 2 with a double and a walk.
“We won game one, but we’re not letting our guard down,” Sutphin said. “Parkersburg South is a good team. They came in here 17-4. We have to come to play.”