By Steve Swick
The Elkins 15-year-old All-Stars captured the state championship with an 8-0 win over Huntington Southeastern Wednesday night at Robin Harvey Memorial Field.
"This team was the state runner-up as 13-year-olds, won the state championship as 14-year-olds and were just on a mission to repeat," Elkins manager Chris Broughton said.
Elkins advances to the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament, which begins later this month in Zanesville, Ohio.
Elkins surrendered just one base runner in the top of the first when Ben Haikel singled. He was put out at second base on a fielder's choice one batter later.
Daniel Crawford went to the plate first for Elkins and drew a walk. Two batters later, Joseph Severino belted a double to the outfield wall. P.J. Lanham singled to bring in both Crawford and Severino, and Ryan Hoffman followed with another single.
That was enough for Huntington to relieve Myles Robertson on the mound and bring in Haikel to pitch.
After Kole Hopwood drove in Lanham, the scoring was over in the first inning with Elkins leading 3-0.
Huntington had two runners reach base in the second but Robertson was out on runner interference after he reached on an error. A strikeout and a putout at first ended the visitor's half.
The home half saw Jared Kerns reach on a fielder's choice, followed by a single from Crawford.
Cole Harlan then belted a deep two-run double to make it a 5-0 Elkins lead.
Elkins starter Caleb Riggleman, meanwhile, allowed just one hit during the third, fourth and fifth innings. The right-hander finished the night with 12 strikeouts and gave up just five singles.
Kyle Chaffin hit a single in the third and Jacob Kitchen a single in the fifth. During that time, he recorded seven strikeouts.
In the bottom of the fifth, Riggleman started things off with a single and Joseph Terrano came in to pinch-run for him. After Kerns was issued a walk, Harlan brought home Terrano by reaching on an error. Severino then scored Kerns on a flyout to left field. Harlan ended the scoring when he touched home on a wild pitch.
Huntington could not get anything going in the sixth or seventh innings either. It was held to one base runner in the sixth on a single by Haikel. In the seventh, Ryan Riddle singled but Riggleman mowed down the final two batters to end the game.
Broughton was very upbeat after his squad captured the title.
He mentioned, "The defense was confident, the bats came around and it was a total team effort."
He especially wanted to praise the pitching, stating that "through 25 innings over four games, our pitchers did not walk a single batter."
Broughton also wanted to laud the parents and his assistant coaches, Tug Ross, Keith Hopwood and scorekeeper Brad Schumacher, for a great job. He also praised tournament director Robin Spicer and the Brian Webley and the grounds crew.
"All of those guys did a terrific job with this tournament," Broughton said. "With all the rain and weather problems, they kept things running smoothly."
Huntington had reached the championship game by upending Beckley, 8-6, in a game that started Tuesday evening but was suspended by rain.
When the game was halted Tuesday in the fourth inning, Huntington held a 5-1 advantage. Beckley battled back, however, and took a 6-5 lead after scoring two in the fourth and three in the fifth.
Dylan Foster had a two-run single in the fifth.
Huntington answered back in the seventh scoring three runs on doubles by Collin Damron and Riddle, and a single by Joseph Kitchen
Beckley got two men on base in the bottom of the seventh but its second comeback was thwarted.