Hoover rolls past Sissonville, takes on Wayne in region final
FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- Just as quickly as he struck out batters Tuesday on his home field, Tristan Fields rattled off his Herbert Hoover teammates who are capable to pitch anytime, anywhere, against anyone.
"Third baseman [Cody Bowen], center fielder [Corey Bird], first baseman [Austin Thomas] or second baseman [Hunter White]," Fields said, pointing at those positions.
All those arms are rested and ready, thanks to Fields. The junior struck out 11 in the Huskies' 10-2 win over Sissonville in the Class AA Region 4 semifinal Tuesday, moving the top-ranked Huskies into the regional final against Wayne.
The Pioneers beat Scott 4-3 in eight innings on Tuesday. First pitch for the region title game is 6 p.m. Thursday at Hoover.
After spotting the Indians two runs in the first inning, Fields settled down and yielded three hits in the final six innings. He was particularly hard on the final four in the Indians' order, striking out eight and inducing a double play.
And he did it all on three days' rest.
"He did really well coming back on short rest," said Hoover coach Brian Young. "He pitched a complete game Friday [six innings against Clay County in sectionals] and came back and wanted the ball. He got better as the night went along, he got loose. He pitched a heck of a ballgame."
He had to, as the Indians' Zach Null struck out nine and held the Huskies close until they struck for six runs in an error-fueled sixth.
The Indians (14-21) dropped two quick runs on Fields in the first five batters. Jacob Fisher singled and went to third when Fields fielded a J.R. Stricklen bunt and threw it away. Null doubled in the first run, and Dominic Walker singled in the second.
"I was dehydrated; I wasn't throwing strikes," Fields said. "My defense started playing behind me, and that calmed me down a lot. I realized I didn't have to do a lot, started throwing strikes, and that's when I started getting more confidence, throwing the ball harder."
Hoover (28-3) answered those two runs just as quickly in their half of the first, as Bird doubled, Ryan Shamblin singled him in and Bowen doubled Shamblin home. The Huskies took a 3-2 lead in the second, in one of the oddest methods possible.
After White singled and stole second, Sean Craze and Shaun Dotson struck out. But Dotson's third-strike pitch went to the backstop, and the catcher's throw to first was wide and got loose. White took advantage, rounding third and scoring.
The 3-2 score remained until the fifth, when Bird drew the only walk for either team, stole second and scored on a Shamblin single. In the sixth, Hoover nearly went from leading 4-2 to invoking the 10-run mercy rule.
Craze, Scooter Farmer and Fields had the RBIs in the six-run inning, with the other three runs coming on errors and a wild pitch. The Indians committed four errors in the frame, two on the same grounder.
Though that sixth inning rendered the issue moot, Sissonville coach Kenny Harper pointed to his team's lack of hitting - the Indians failed to get a runner past second in the final six innings.
Then again, Fields had a hand, er, arm in it.
"You've got to get him early, because the longer he goes, the stronger he gets," Harper said. "That's probably the second-best game I've seen him throw. The last time they played us, he probably threw his best game I've seen."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.