HURRICANE, W.Va. - Lightning never strikes the same place twice, but a couple of claps of two-out thunder made all the difference in a Mountain State Athletic Conference semifinal on Monday.
Eight of Hurricane's nine hits and four of its five runs were registered with two outs as the Redskins' offense did enough to back a solid pitching effort from Austin Hensley in a 5-2 win over Spring Valley.
The No. 4-seeded Timberwolves will meet No. 2-seed Huntington at 5 p.m. today in the MSAC consolation game while No. 1 Hurricane will take on No. 3 Cabell Midland in the championship game approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The Knights knocked off the Highlanders 4-3 in the first game semifinal Monday.
Hensley went the distance for the Redskins, yielding four hits and striking out five. His offense showed up late and often.
"[The two-out offense] says two things, one we're not getting our leadoff guy on," Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin said with a laugh. "But an inning is never over until they make the third out and you see some crazy things in high school and in baseball in general.
"There's no routine plays in high school, there's no routine innings, and that's what makes it fun."
Indeed, it was an enjoyable thing to watch if you were wearing Redskins, but it wasn't such a jolly good time for Timberwolves fans.
Once in the second inning and again in the fourth, Timberwolves pitcher Tyler Radcliffe had two outs and nobody on, only to see the Redskins strike for a pair of runs on both occasions.
Spring Valley committed three errors in those frames and it was just too much for the offense to overcome against Hensley.
"The routine play is what is killing us," Timberwolves coach Jim Hensley said. "If we make a routine play, we might still be playing because Tyler threw well enough to keep us in the game.
"We fix a few things, we're going to be all right. That's a good team we just played, my God, they're not No. 1 for nothing."
Hurricane's lone hit with less than two outs came on a solo home run off the bat of Tate Brock to lead off the second inning. Radcliffe then struck out Connor Adams and got Ace Estep to ground out before Austin Hensley reached on an error by the third baseman.
J.T. Rogoszewski singled in the next at-bat, putting runners on first and third. Austin Hensley scored on a Radcliff balk and No. 9 hitter Zach Pate followed by beating out an infield single, allowing Rogoszewski to score from second.