By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It was a scene made for a movie.
In the shadow of the West Virginia state capitol, Independence’s Brian Sexton was on the mound in the bottom of the 7th inning. The game was tied and bases were loaded.
Sexton had fought his way out of a jam time and time again.
But this time, he simply didn’t have enough left in the tank.
Sexton fired it to home plate where Herbert Hoover’s Hunter White was waiting.
White hit it clear to Huntington to give Herbert Hoover a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh, and the 7-3 victory to advance to the Class AA championship game on Saturday.
The decision to leave Sexton in for the seventh was a tough one for first year Patriots skipper Scottie Cuthbert, who warmed up Andrue Hughart in the bottom of the sixth.
“We talked about it, but Brian’s been the one that got us here, so we wanted to try to stick with him,” Cuthbert said. “Brian pitched a heck of a game.”
While the end may have been triumphant for the Huskies, in the beginning it was all Patriots.
On the very first pitch, Drew D’Angelo hit a chopper to right field for a single. The next at bat, Wyatt Adkins, drove D’Angelo home for the first run of the night.
Then came a scary moment. Indy’s Brad Huffman hit a shot back to Hoover pitcher Tristan Fields that ricocheted off his left ankle and into the outfield. It allowed Adkins to score, and left Fields down for several minutes. He was replaced on the mound by Cody Bowen.
Bowen pitched a marvelous game, giving up three hits and one run over six and a third innings, and striking out six Patriots.
Momentum began to shift in the bottom of the fifth inning when Sean Craze hit a ground-rule double to right field, and advanced to third on a Sexton wild pitch. Shaun Dotson drove Craze home on a double to give the Huskies their first run of the night.
Dotson would make it 3-2 when he scored on a Scooter Farmer sacrifice fly to center.
The inning marked a rare occasion for the Patriots second baseman, D’Angelo, who committed only his third error of the season.
“It was one of those things that happen,” Cuthbert said. “It was the wrong time. It could have happened to anybody.”
D’Angelo gave up another error in the seventh, allowing Craze to reach base.
After Dotson reached again, the Kanawha Valley Player of the Year, Corey Bird, singled down the third base line to draw the game even.
The rest, as they say, is history.
For Cuthbert, it marks the end of his first season as Patriots head coach, only the second in Independence history.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better first year,” Cuthbert said of his team, which finished the season 19-9. “I said I didn’t want this to ever end. Who knows if it will ever happen again?”
The Patriots are in a good position for next year, losing only one player. However, the player very well may be one the greatest to ever take the field in Independence’s red, white and blue in Drew D’Angelo.
“He’s got to be up there somewhere near the top,” Cuthbert added. “He’s very well may hold the school record for hitting in a single season, and defensively he’s been really good. For my knowledge, he’s probably one of the top infielders we’ve ever had. He would fit up there with (Jeremy and Chris) Gambrell and Jake (Justice). He’s a special player.”
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The Huskies move on to the championship game on Saturday at 10 a.m. when they will take on Fairmont Senior for the Class AA Championship at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.
The Polar Bears advanced by knocking out Bridgeport 9-6 in 10 innings.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
Herbert Hoover 7, Independence 3
I 200 010 0 — 3 6 3
HH 000 020 5 — 7 8 1
I: Brian Sexton and Jeremy McGinnis. H: Tristan Fields, Cody Bowen (1) and Scooter Farmer. WP: Bowen. LP: Sexton. Hitting: I: Drew D’Angelo 1-4, Wyatt Adkins 1-3 (RBI), Andrue Hughart 1-3 (RBI), Brad Huffman 1-3 (RBI), Brian Sexton 2-3. H: Corey Bird 2-4 (RBI), Hunter Whiter 1-4 (4 RBI), Cody Bowen 1-3, Tristan Fields 1-2, Sean Craze 2-3, Sean Dotson 2-3 (RBI).