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Hurricane blasts way to Carter title

By Rick Ryan, Assistant Sports Editor

Hurricane had a blast Saturday at the finals of the Ed Carter Memorial tournament.

Three different Redskins launched home runs and Hurricane stroked nine extra-base hits to spark an 11-1 six-inning romp over Winfield at Loftis Field in St. Albans.

The victory gave Hurricane (14-4), the No. 1 team in the state Class AAA poll, the championship of the annual two-day, six-team event and marked the fourth straight game in which the Redskins scored 11 runs.

“We had a better plan, a better approach,’’ said Redskins coach Brian Sutphin. “But more than anything else, I thought our kids played with energy, with enthusiasm and were wanting to play. Of course, you’re going to perform better when you’re in a better state of mind.’’

Hurricane’s hitting started slowly, with just a 2-1 lead after three innings. But when Tate Brock unloaded a solo homer to start the fourth, target practice was on. The Skins seemingly spent the rest of the sunny afternoon cranking balls over or off the outfield fence.

Ace Estep stroked extra-base knocks on his final three at-bats — two doubles and a two-run homer in the top of the sixth. Alexander Dunham also went deep with a solo shot and five Redskins tacked on doubles — Estep, Brock, Trey Dawson, Brandon Pauley and winning pitcher Austin Hensley.

“The first couple of innings, we were just up there swinging,’’ Estep said, “and then as the game went on, we started looking for our pitches. And when we got our pitches, we started capitalizing on them.’’

Winfield’s ace, junior Bryan Bosley (4-2, 2.49 ERA) was pulled after Brock and Estep began the fourth with a homer and double, respectively. The Skins had 10 of their 13 hits over the final three innings.

“He just left too many pitches up,’’ Generals coach Will Isaacs said of Bosley. “He left a couple of two-strike pitches up in the strike zone. We were throwing breaking balls and with a 1-2 count, you’ve got to throw those in the dirt, and he throws them down the middle. When you hang pitches like that, good hitters are going to put good swings on them.

“Other times he pitched behind in the count and when it’s 2-0, you’ve got to try and throw a strike to get back in the count and good hitters set on that. I thought coming in with Bryan [throwing] we were in good position, but location is critical in real estate, and it’s critical in pitching, too, and he didn’t locate real well.’’

Hensley worked five innings, allowing three singles, fanning three and walking one. Estep, a West Virginia State recruit, closed it out in the sixth, permitting one hit and whiffing two.

The Generals (7-12) took a short-lived 1-0 lead in the first when Brandon Wright singled, stole second and third and scored on Jordan Clark’s groundout.

Since dropping three straight games while scoring a total of nine runs, the Redskins have pounded the ball, piling up 44 runs over their last four games, three of them in the weekend tournament dedicated to Carter, the former SA coach who died of a bone marrow disorder in 2007. This event helps raise awareness and donations to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“We’re enjoying playing baseball,’’ Sutphin said. “It’s a game. This tournament is named after Coach Carter and I can remember him saying that you can’t take anything for granted. You can go from champ to chump in one day.’’

Friday’s games were moved from SA and George Washington to the turf fields at Hurricane and Winfield because of rain.

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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