CHARLESTON – Charleston Catholic jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings and went on to hand the Ravenswood Red Devils a disappointing 8-2 loss in the West Virginia State Class A Baseball Championship Game Saturday morning at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
Senior ace Nathan Curtis was unavailable to pitch in the championship game Saturday, having barely surpassed the pitch count limit in the Red Devils’ 5-4, 10-inning win over Tygarts Valley on Thursday.
Junior Chase Swain, the semifinal starter, was on the mound again for the Red Devils. Things started badly for Ravenswood as Luke McKown’s fly ball was lost in the sun, and what could have been a routine out turned into a two-base hit for McKown. A bunt single and a sacrifice bunt plated McKown for the first run of the game with one out. Irish pitcher John Hufford delivered a two-out, RBI single to make it 2-0 Irish after one-half inning.
Ravenswood threatened in the bottom of the first, as Chase Swain and Nathan Curtis delivered back-to-back, two-out singles. Pinch runner Jake Green stole third, but Lakin Tucker struck out looking to end the threat.
A defensive key for the Irish in the game was the play of senior shortstop Michael Martin, who robbed Red Devils of potential hits on several occasions during the game.
In the top of the second, two straight walks were followed by a passed ball and another walk to loaded the bases with Irish with no outs, consecutive sacrifice flies scored runs, although a collision just ahead of the plate on the second flyout left the CC base runner short of scoring.
However, the tag was ruled not made by catcher Andrew Anglin and the Irish runner lunged ahead to touch the plate and score.
An RBI single by Brandon Combs then scored the third run of the inning to make it 5-0 in favor of the Irish.
In the top of the fourth, McKown led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an RBI double by Trae Swisher that chased Swain from the mound for the Red Devils, who found themselves down 6-0.
Swain, who took the eventual loss, tossed 3.1 innings with no strikeouts, three walks, seven hits allowed and hit one batter.
Nic Taylor took over in relief and went 2.2 innings, fanning three, walking one, allowing one hit and hitting one batter. Lakin Tucker tossed the final .1 inning.
The Red Devils finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth, when Stephen Dawson ripped a one-out double into the left center field gap and scored on Blake Bennett’s two-out triple into the right centerfield gap to score Dawson, making it 6-1.
But the Irish answered in the top of the sixth, led by another leadoff bunt single by McKown. A throwing error on an attempted sacrifice bunt sailed into right field, careened off a rolled field tarp and rolled all the way to the wall, allowing McKown to score and the bunter to advance all the way to third base. Nic Taylor followed with a strikeout and a comebacker for the second out. He then struck out the next batter, but a passed ball allowed another run to score from third and the struck-out batter to reach first. A popout to Curtis at third ended the mayhem with the Irish leading 8-1.
Curtis led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple into the right centerfield gap. He scored on Lakin Tucker’s RBI groundout. Jake Greene drew a walk, but a strikeout and flyout ended the inning with the Irish ahead 8-2. That turned out to the final score.
Junior John Hufford went the distance to get the pitching win for the Irish, fanning four, walking three and scattering eight hits.
At the plate, Nathan Curtis collected a triple and single in his final game as a Red Devil. Chase Swain and Andrew Anglin collected two singles each; Blake Bennett, an RBI triple; Stephen Dawson, a double; and Lakin Tucker, an RBI.
For the Irish, Luke McKown went 3-for-4 including two bunt singles. Trae Swisher added an RBI double; John Hufford, and RBI single; Brandon Combs, an RBI single; and Michael Martin (bunt) and Brendan Lanham, one single each.
Red Devils Nathan Curtis, Lakin Tucker and Miciah Kennedy were named to the West Virginia State Class A All-Tournament Team, as were Luke McKown, John Hufford, Brandon Combs and Michael Martin for the Irish.
Ravenswood finished the season at 23-10, while Charleston Catholic finished 28-8.