It wasn't enough that Chapmanville wrapped up its first state tournament spot in 10 years. The Tigers pulled it off in style Thursday night. They did it their way, ripping the ball all over the park.
Tyler Cox and Jordan Kirk launched two-run homers during an eight-run second inning, lifting Chapmanville to a 10-1 victory over host Sissonville in the Class AA Region 4 finals.
The win sends the Tigers (32-3), the No. 1 team in the Gazette's AA state ratings, into the state tournament semifinals at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Friday, June 3 against the Region 2 champion, either defending state titlist Braxton County or Frankfort, who were rained out Thursday night.
"That eight-run second sort of took the wind out of them,'' said Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis, "and propelled us to what we wanted to do.''
The Tigers teed off on Sissonville starter Zach Null, a sophomore left-hander who gave up six runs and five hits in 12/3 innings. Null left after Cox's two-run blast and was replaced by Indians ace Ryan Baldwin (9-6), who worked six innings in Tuesday's 7-6 regional semifinal win at Poca.
Baldwin was greeted by a ringing double off the bat of Josh Easterling and Kirk followed with his two-run shot to bump the lead to 8-0.
"Hitting is one of our major things,'' said Kirk, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior catcher who is considered a major league draft prospect. "We have guys working on it every night for hours - just hitting the ball. That's one thing we've really stepped up this year, something we needed to have. When we don't hit the ball, we're highly disappointed.''
It wasn't the first time Chapmanville had roughed up Indians pitching. The Tigers took wins of 10-4 and 11-2 against Sissonville this season, two of the staggering 22 times they've tallied 10 or more runs in a game.
"We knew that coming in,'' said Kenny Harper, Sissonville's first-year coach. "They pounded the ball every time we played them.''
Chapmanville put the game on cruise control after the second, with the Indians doing well just to extend it to a full seven innings. The Tigers finished with 12 hits - two each by Easterling, Kirk and Joe Woody.