The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 26, 2010

Prep baseball: Region 3 showdowns on tap today

James Monroe has ventured into uncharted territory, and coach John Mustain doesn’t want the trip to end tonight.

The Mavericks are one win away from advancing to the state baseball tournament. Standing in their way is Wyoming East, a team just as hungry as it looks for its first state berth in 10 years.

The two will meet for the Class AA Region 3 championship at 6:30 p.m. in New Richmond.

James Monroe (16-11) has won four sectional championships in five years, but Monday’s 7-4 win over Shady Spring was its first-ever regional semifinal victory.

“It is definitely the farthest we have ever gotten,” said Mustain, now in his fifth season. “These boys have been together a good while now and it definitely means a lot to them.

“I’ve (coached in the state tournament) in softball and basketball, and gotten to the state championship in football, so to me this is another big thing. And baseball is my favorite game.”

The Mavericks got a complete game out of ace Ian Dansfield against Shady Spring. Trevor Smith will start against the Warriors (23-5).

“We consider Ian our No. 1 pitcher, but Trevor Smith is not far behind,” Mustain said. “They’re not fireballers like (former ace) Logan (Ray) was, but both have pretty decent velocity and are good at spotting their pitches.”

Mustain was most pleased with an error-free defense that helped Dansfield out. James Monroe turned three double plays and catcher Caleb Ballard picked off a runner at third.

The Warriors, meanwhile, are overflowing with confidence after beating Independence ace Kendrick Epling in a 4-1 win Monday.

It was Epling’s only loss to a Class AA team all season.

“That gave us a lot of confidence,” Wyoming East coach Ron “Chief” Mayhew said. “Kendrick is a super pitcher.”

Travis McKinney continued his late-season emergence with a complete game four-hitter. Tonight, senior Kyle Hurley will likely take the mound as East tries to qualify for the first time since losing to Bridgeport in the 2000 Class AA title game.

“We had some good teams after that and never made it,” Mayhew said. “We were beaten by Chapmanville and Wayne, then by Mount View. We got beat by Shady (Spring) once and Independence beat us last year, and we lost to Oak Hill a couple of years ago in the regional finals after we had the lead in the seventh inning. We got close but didn’t make it.”

Hurley is 3-1 and has an earned run average closing in on 6.00, but the Warriors will be playing the biggest game to date on their 3-year-old field.

“I don’t know (if Hurley will start) yet,” Mayhew claimed. “We will go over it again (today). It will be up to him a little bit. We’ll see if he wants the ball. His fastball looked good (in practice Tuesday).”

Tonight’s winner will face the Region 4 winner at approximately 7 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.


A Fayette County battle will decide the Class A Region 3 representative when Fayetteville hosts Valley today. The game will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Valley (22-12) and Fayetteville (23-12) are looking to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2002 and 2001, respectively.

Both the Greyhounds and Pirates scored 10 runs in their regional semifinal victories. Valley disposed of Pocahontas County 10-0 in five innings, while Fayetteville ended Iaeger athletics for good with a 10-4 victory.

Iaeger and Big Creek high schools will consolidate next year to form River View High School.

Valley has won 12 of its last 15 games, including wins over Class AAA opponents Nicholas County (6-3) and Capital (15-4). Both of those teams played in regional semifinal games Tuesday night.

“Sometimes you see teams maybe have peaked a little too early,” Valley coach Joe Craffey said. “Early on I was a little worried about that, but we have continued to play well through sectionals.”

The Greyhounds dropped a pair of tuneup games last week to Sissonville (7-1) and Shady Spring (4-3). Craffey used four pitchers in each game “just to get some work in.”

First-year Fayetteville coach Dan Poland said he admires the way the Greyhounds play the game. The teams split their regular-season meetings, and Poland was already familiar with Valley from his days as an assistant at Oak Hill.

“Valley plays tough baseball,” he said. “They’re scrappy. I have a lot of respect for the job Joe and (assistant coach) John John (McGinnis) do there.”

That said, Poland is happy with the way his team played against Iaeger.

“We started out pretty decent and then sat on a seven-run lead,” he said. “We didn’t hit the ball as hard as I thought we would, but we still hit pretty well.

“Our fielding was better than I thought it would be. And Nich (Carte, the starting pitcher) always throws strikes.”

Brandon Doyle will start for the Pirates. Craffey is undecided between sophomore Tyler Chaffins and senior Zach Tolley.

The winner will take on the Region 4 champion at approximately 12:30 p.m. Friday, June 4.

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