Barboursville, Martinsburg go to Little League state finals
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Barboursville began practicing for the Little League state tournament there was only one destination the team had in mind.
Barboursville has arrived as Griffin Adkins and Peyton Weekley each belted two home runs to carry it past Huntington 12-4 Friday evening in the semifinals and into the title round of the 11-12-year-old event at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.
Mikey Jackson struck out nine in 52/3 innings and Isaac Brown and Aaron Pierson backed him with a homer each to lead Martinsburg to an 8-1 victory over Fairmont in the other semifinal.
Barboursville will face Martinsburg at 10 a.m. today in the championship game. The winner advances to the Southeast Regional Aug. 1-9 at Warner Robins, Ga. (See Page 2B for results and schedule.)
Barboursville lost in last year's title game 11-10 to Shinnston.
"When we first started practicing I pulled the kids together and I said, 'What do we want?''' said Barboursville team manager Dell Adkins. "Immediately they said they wanted the state championship.
"I think a lot of it is we have four kids that came one run short last year of winning the state championship. Those four kids are hungry and the other eight are coming right along with them.''
Barboursville took a 5-0 lead in the top of the first Friday to take the lead for good and never looked back. Barboursville finished with 15 hits, including five round-trippers.
J.J. Mercer went 2 for 4 for Huntington.
Fairmont also took the early lead in the top of the first (1-0) then Martinsburg hammered out eight runs in the first and second innings combined to take control.
"Somebody steps up each night,'' said Martinsburg team manager Eddie Zombro. "Tonight, Michael Jackson gave us a good 85 pitches. You can't ask for any more than that. I still think we haven't played as well as I know we can. Starting to see signs.''
Martinsburg captured the 10-11-year-old state title last year and advanced to the regional, where it finished with a 1-2 record in pool play.
"They've been together since they were 9 and 10 years old,'' Zombro said. "They know each other pretty well and this team got better each year. Just got a bunch of athletes.''
Zombro said since Martinsburg captured its third straight Class AAA state championship in high school football last fall the pressure is on within the community to keep pace.
"That's what I told [Martinsburg football] Coach [Dave] Walker, you win a state title I'm not going to let you get anything on me,'' laughed Zombro. "I'm going to try to be right behind you.''
Adkins said Barboursville will have its toughest test yet in today's title game.
"Great team,'' he said of Martinsburg. "They have the experience. They know what it's like to play in [the regional] game. They're strong from top to bottom. There's no question it's going to be a battle.''
Barboursville and Martinsburg will also be playing for Little League supremacy within the state.
"They've won seven state championships and we've won seven state championships,'' Adkins said. "The winner is going to have bragging rights for the state. There's a lot on the line.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.