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State tournament notebook: Riverside-Hurricane rematch

By From staff reports
KENNY KEMP | Saturday Gazette-Mail
Hurricane players give each other high fives after the win over Washington.

Hurricane and Riverside will be coming nearly full circle when they meet in the Class AAA state championship game at approximately 1 p.m. today at Appalachian Power Park.

The Redskins downed Washington 3-1 in Friday morning’s first AAA semifinal while the Warriors edged Wheeling Park 3-2 with a run in the bottom of the seventh in the other semi in the afternoon. It’s also the first All-Kanawha Valley title tilt in AAA history, a division that began in 1976.

Hurricane clobbered Riverside 11-1 on March 31 in what was only the second game of the season for the Redskins and the Warriors’ third.

“We have to play our game,’’ said first-year Riverside coach Patrick Vogelsang. “We’re a very different team now. We’ll see what happens.’’

The Redskins (28-7) and Warriors (20-12) are also streaking into the finals. Hurricane has won seven straight and Riverside has won all six of its postseason games, four of them by a single run.

The likely pitching matchups are Hurricane senior Austin Hensley, who owns an 8-1 record with a 2.67 earned run average, versus Riverside junior Brady Wilkinson, who is 5-4 with 79 strikeouts in 54 innings.

“Keep a good mentality,’’ said Riverside junior Trevor Smith, who had Friday’s winning hit, of carrying over Friday’s momentum. “We’ve got to come out and execute better than we did last time.’’

Championship run

Hurricane senior Ace Estep kept his streak intact Friday.

The Redskins’ 3-1 victory over Washington in the Class AAA semifinals sends the second baseman into his eighth championship game in baseball.

Estep, who has signed with West Virginia State, has played in seven title games dating from Little and Junior League to middle school.

He also was on Hurricane’s basketball team that lost in the AAA championship game in March.

“I think since a lot of us have been here before, especially in Little League, we know what to expect,’’ said Estep. “Keep the same demeanor throughout the game and I think we’ll be OK.’’

Walk in the park

Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis made three trips to discuss calls with umpires during Friday evening’s Class AA semifinal 3-1 loss to Bridgeport.

He said it was the most he’s made all season.

“It’s a hard job,’’ said Ellis of umpiring. “It seemed like all the close calls went their way. That wasn’t the ballgame. The ballgame was they made a couple of nice plays and that saved them.

“I couldn’t be prouder. Our team played well and [Bridgeport] played well.’’


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