The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

June 5, 2014

Patriots to face Fairmont in semifinals

Sexton-Norman likely matchup today at Appalachian Power Park

There’s experience, and then there’s being a mainstay.

Independence falls in the first category, making its second consecutive state tournament appearance tonight in Charleston. The Patriots (26-7) have been there four of the last eight seasons.

Fairmont Senior definitely falls among the second company. The Polar Bears are making their 11th trip to the tournament in 12 seasons. They were Class AA runners-up to Herbert Hoover last year, and the other nine appearances were as a Class AAA school.

Indy and Fairmont will meet in the Class AA semifinals at about 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes after completion of the first semifinal between Bridgeport and Chapmanville that starts at 5 p.m.

The Bears (22-8) ride a seven-game win streak into tonight’s game. Second-year Independence coach Scott Cuthbert got to watch Fairmont in its regional title game, a 9-4 win over Ravenswood.

“They have a left-hander who throws well,” Cuthbert said. “They are sound fundamentally and play good defense. They will do the little things to score runs.”

The left-hander to which Cuthbert referred is senior Austin Norman, who likely will get the nod tonight. The Marshall commit is 5-2 with a 1.37 earned run average while striking out 85 batters in 59 1-3 innings.

Fairmont’s No. 2 has been no slouch. Senior right-hander Bailey Mohr is 7-1 with a 1.35 ERA and has 59 strikeouts.

Norman doesn’t just do his damage from the mound. He’s hitting .418 with 12 homers and 48 runs batted in and has scored 37 times.

Senior first baseman Johnny Kesling leads Fairmont with a .434 average. He has five home runs and 31 RBIs.

Cuthbert said the Bears’ fundamental approach to offense is a bit familiar.

“They are somewhat similar to us,” Cuthbert said. “They can manufacture runs, which is easier said than done.”

Indy, which also has won seven straight, will likely counter Norman with senior Brian Sexton. The right-hander takes a 5-3 record and 2.50 earned run average to Power Park. He started the Patriots’ loss to Hoover in last year’s semifinals, pitching well through six innings and taking a 3-2 lead into the seventh before everything came undone in a 7-3 loss.

Senior shortstop Wyatt Adkins is hitting .477 with seven homers, 10 doubles and five triples. He has scored 50 runs and driven in 33.

Junior Andrue Hughart is enjoying a nice season. The junior third baseman has a .412 average with 16 doubles and 38 RBIs. On the mound, Hughart is 6-2 with a 2.28 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 40 innings.

Senior second baseman Brad Huffman is hitting .406 and has driven in 31 runs. Senior catcher Jeremy McGinnis, a recent West Virginia Wesleyan signee, has battled injury but is still hitting .367 with 28 RBIs. Sophomore designated hitter Ryan Brandstetter has a .389 average and 23 RBIs.

Tonight’s winner will play for the state title at about 4 p.m. Saturday, 45 minutes after the Class AAA game awards presentation.

— E-mail: gfauber and follow on Twitter


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