RIPLEY - "The kids played their guts out. They left it on the field," said Ripley's third year coach Shane Casto after Ripley's heartbreaking 6-4 loss on Saturday in the Region 3 Section 4 matchup that ended Ripley's season and propelled the Warriors to Regional play.
After defeating Capital to open sectional play, Ripley fell twice to the Warriors on consecutive nights. Ripley dropped a 4-0 decision on Friday, a game in which the Vikings mustered just five hits. Trevor Tucker and Cody Pittenger hit safe twice and Christopher Jordan notched a hit in rain soaked action on West Virginia Tech baseball's Epling Field. (former East Bank High diamond).
In that game, Isaac Koontz took the hill and certainly pitched well enough to give Ripley a chance to win. The sophomore hurled a complete game and gave up four runs (three earned). Koontz had zero walks in the contest, an often-overlooked statistic. Riverside's Cameron Norris simply pitched a tremendous game in shutting down Ripley's bats in the shutout.
On Saturday, fighting to stay alive and force a game three with the Warriors in the round robin style sectional set up, the Vikings were unable to touch up Warrior pitching enough to take the game. The Warriors prevailed in ten innings, 6-4.
Ripley seniors Tyler Pittenger, Preston Baldwin (injured) and Issac Vidrine would put on the Viking blue for the last time.
Brady Wilkinson took the hill for the Warriors on Saturday. Ripley defeated the southpaw 3-1 on April 22. Ripley frosh Logan McCoy started that game for Ripley and earned the complete game win while hurling a five hitter.
The two gunslingers met again and dueled in what turned out to be a very good baseball game.
The Warriors took advantage of an infield error by the Vikings and plated three runs (one earned) in the third.
Ripley responded in the fifth when they plated the only four runs they would score in the contest.
It all started when Alex Hambrick beat out a dribbler to the pitcher on the infield for a well-deserved single. Trevor Tucker then mashed a daisy cutter to left field for a single and Hambrick took third on the play.
Hambrick's hustle down the line to start the inning was just what the Vikings needed.
Christopher Jordan then walked to juice the bases and Senior Tyler Pittenger came up in what would be one of his final at bats as a Viking.
Wilkinson hung a changeup and Pittenger made him pay in the form of a three-run double to centerfield.
Cameron Norris scored on a wild pitch for Riverside in the seventh and the game went to extra innings tied a four.
In the top of the tenth, with McCoy still on the hill for Ripley, an infield error with one out and a runner on second kept the inning alive for the Warriors. Riverside plated two runs on a sacrifice fly and a bloop single to center.
Page 2 of 2 - Ripley went quietly in the bottom of the inning and Riverside celebrated on foreign soil.
"Wilkinson really stepped up for us tonight. We knew going into this that Pittenger (Tyler) is their best hitter. He hurt us a little with that double but our pitching has carried us sometimes this season," said Riverside coach Chris Hawkins.
He added, "The conference (MSAC) is aware if Ripley's young talent like Logan McCoy. I expect them to make some noise over the next three years. Coach Casto and his staff are doing a good job up here developing these kids."
On the hill, McCoy once again proved his value to the Ripley squad. With a stable of good arms it appears that Ripley will carry on its rich tradition of quality pitchers. The frosh hurled 9.1 innings while surrendering five hits, two walks and four strikeouts. McCoy only gave up one earned run.
For Ripley, Alex Hambrick led the way going 3-for-4 and scoring a run. Tyler Pittenger had a double and three RBIss while scoring a run, Trevor Tucker was 2-for-4 with a run, Jonny Stepp and Isaac Koontz each had a hit and Christopher Jordan scored a run.