Redskins scratch out semifinal win
Hurricane has big plans for the weekend. But to get there, the Redskins first had to think small. As in small ball.
Not normally a team that manufactures a few scores via station-to-station play, Hurricane scratched out three runs against Washington ace Jared Silva Friday morning, and it was enough to earn a 3-1 victory in the Class AAA state tournament semifinals at Appalachian Power Park.
The win sends the No. 1-ranked Redskins (28-7) into today’s finals at approximately 1 p.m. against upstart Riverside (20-12), a fellow Mountain State Athletic Conference team.
Hurricane scored its three runs on a passed ball, an RBI single by Tate Brock (one of only three hits for the Redskins) and a wild pitch. It marked just the fourth win this season when the Redskins scored three or fewer runs.
“We’ve worked on it all year,’’ said junior pitcher J.T. Rogoszewski of the small-ball approach. “It hasn’t been our strongest type of play this year, but we’ve been working at it. We made it work, and it helped us today. Three runs is enough.’’
Silva (7-2), a VMI recruit who threw back-to-back no-hitters earlier this season, was kept under constant pressure from the Redskins, who put 13 runners on base in six innings, five of them thrown by Silva.
In his five innings, Silva allowed only two hits and fanned six, but walked four batters, hit three and misplayed two dribblers back to the mound — one a bunt attempt — and was charged with a pair of errors. He entered the game with a 0.80 earned run average.
“Jared didn’t have his best stuff today,’’ said Washington coach Mark Hash, “but he was battling. It’s about taking advantage of baserunners — they did and we didn’t. That’s the best team we’ve seen this year.’’
Rogoszewski (8-1), who fired a four-hitter with three strikeouts and four walks for Hurricane, admittedly didn’t have his best stuff either, but permitted just the one earned run against a team that had won 14 in a row.
Washington, playing in its first state tournament game, got its lone run to tie the game in the top of the third. Bryan Bayless coaxed a two-out walk from Rogoszewski, stole second and scored on Silva’s single.
“I wasn’t feeling right today,’’ Rogoszewski said, “but I tried to play through it. On the mound, I just didn’t feel in sync. My arm dropped a little bit, my foot was down. It just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t find my groove. I did enough to win.’’
The same could be said of Hurricane’s offense.
The Skins nickled-and-dimed Silva all day, but managed to place nine runners into scoring position and got three of them home.
In the second, they scored without a hit as Brandon Pauley walked, was sacrificed to second by Justin Crouch, took third on a grounder and scored on a passed ball to make it 1-0.
After Washington (23-5) tied it in the top of the third, Hurricane regained the lead.
Rogoszewski reached when a Silva pitch hit him on his shirt sleeve and courtesy runner Travis Lavenski went to second when Alexander Dunham drew a walk. Brock then lofted an RBI single to put the Redskins up 2-1.
Hurricane had the small-ball attack working so well it apparently received a run when it didn’t even cross home plate, tacking on an insurance score in the home half of the sixth.
Zach Pate stroked a double into the gap against Patriots reliever Zach Burch and took third on a wild pitch. When Burch uncorked another pitch that bounced to the backstop, Pate sped for home, but seemed to leap over the plate instead of touching it.
Home plate umpire Charles Linch never made a safe signal and Pate continued on to the dugout, where he received high-fives from teammates. However, Washington never made an appeal on the play and the run eventually counted.
“We obviously could have scored a lot more runs,’’ said Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin. “We left a ton on base [nine, including the bases loaded twice]. But at the end of the day, we kept applying pressure. They handled it well. They only gave up three runs.
“That guy [Silva], there’s a reason why they’d won  in a row and there’s a reason why he’s going to VMI. He’s a competitor. He throws it in there. We didn’t have any good swings early, but we kept plugging away and battling and kept constantly putting pressure on him.’’
Hurricane’s defense also contributed at key moments.
Both Rogoszewski and catcher Brock picked runners off base — actually, the same runner, No. 9 hitter Trevor Pansch, on separate occasions.
Shortstop Trey Dawson also turned a 6-unassisted/6-3 double play on a grounder up the middle to close out the fifth. In the sixth, with a runner at first and two out, Pate made a nifty running catch in deep center on Hunter Weaver’s fly ball.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.