ELKINS – After falling behind early to Hampshire and WVU recruit Shane Ennis, Elkins coach Adam Roth knew his team’s season could be on the line.
“It was gut-check time,” Roth said. “We needed to come out fighting and get back in the game.”
The?Tigers (14-9) did just that and more, as Cole Harlan’s RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Elkins to a dramatic 5-4 win over the Trojans in the opening game of the best-of-three Class AAA, Region II, Section 3 tournament.
The series will now shift to Romney at 4:30 p.m. today, with the Tigers needing one victory to capture the sectional crown. A win by Hampshire would force a second game to immediately follow the opener.
The Trojans (13-12) struck for three runs in the first inning off Elkins starter Isaac Riggleman when David Delawder led off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third on Brandon Timbrook’s single.
Ennis that plated Delawder with a sacrifice fly and Timbrook trotted home on Ethan Turner’s single. Turner later scored on an error.
The Tigers mounted a rally in the third to tie the game at 3-3.
Cameron Clarkson and Daniel Crawford started the rally by drawing walks. After Clarkson trotted home on a wild pitch to make it 3-1, Kollin Hopwood followed with a single to score Crawford and Harlan later added an RBI fielder’s choice to send home Hopwood with the tying run.
Each team picked up an unearned run in the fifth to set up the deciding seventh inning.
Hopwood started the frame with a double and Colby Gainer was intentionally walked. Logan Phillips then reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt to load the bases for Harlan, who lofted his game-winning fly ball to right to plate Hopwood for the game-winning run.
“We showed a lot of mental toughness in this game,” Roth said. “We overcame a lot of adversity to gain a big victory.”
Riggleman was solid for the Tigers in earning the win. He scattered four runs on seven hits, fanning six and walking two in going the distance.
“Isaac gave a great effort,” Roth said. “He settled down after that first inning and was very efficient with his pitches.”
Ennis went the first six innings, allowing just three hits but being plagued by eight walks. He fanned five.
Delawder took the loss, allowing one run on one hit and walking one.