By Cam Huffman
Woodrow Wilson waited six years to get back to Charleston for the state baseball tournament after its last appearance in 2007.
It’s visit lasted just 92 minutes.
The Flying Eagles (20-11) got just two hits off of Cabell Midland starter Seth Kinker, who struck out eight in seven full innings in a 5-0 victory Friday night at Appalachian Power Park to improve to 8-4 on the season and get his team into the Class AAA championship game.
The Knights will face Hedgesville (28-7), a 6-3 winner of Parkersburg South in the other semifinal game, with the big prize on the line.
“If it was a 10-hitter or a no-hitter, we’re in the state championship,” said Kinker, who walked only one Woodrow batter. “They asked me to do a job, and I did that job.
“A lot of people didn’t think we were going to be here. But we just came out and played baseball. Now we’re in the state championship.”
Kinker flirted with perfection, sitting down the first 13 Flying Eagles he faced before allowing a one-out double off the bat of Hunter Halstead in the fifth.
“I snickered a little bit,” said Kinker, admitting he was fully aware of what was happening before Halstead laced his slider into deep left, where it bounced off the wall. “He earned it. He hit it hard.”
Woodrow’s only other hit was a sharp single through the middle from Cole Williams’ bat to lead off the seventh. Hunter Greco followed with a walk to give the Flying Eagles two base runners for the first time all night, but Kinker calmly pitched out of the jam and finished off his gem.
“He threw a heck of a game,” said Cabell Midland head coach Tracy Brumfield. “As the game went on, the velocity got faster and faster. His slider was working good. His two-seemer was working well, and I tip my hat to him.”
Cabell Midland (23-10) didn’t find a lot of offense, but it was more than enough.
The Knights put three runs on the field in the second, starting when Eli Canterbury doubled home Cody Ballengee, who led off the inning with a walk, to break a scoreless tie. Woodrow starter Greco got the next two outs and was hoping to leave the bases loaded when Taylor Kuhn singled through the middle for what was the biggest play of the game.
One run scored on the hit, and another scored when courtesy runner Coleton Carter was caught in a rundown between third and home. Woodrow catcher Daniel Rose couldn’t hold onto the throw, and Carter scored to put his team ahead 3-0.
“I thought that play really hurt us,” said Woodrow head coach Mark Daniel.
Midland added another run on a wild pitch in the third, and Greco — who took the loss to fall to 6-3 — left with the bases loaded and one out.
Josh Rakes came on to put out the fire, and he did just that, allowing only one run over 3 2/3 innings of work.
“He’s been great all year, and so has Greco,” said Daniel. “But when you don’t put any runs on the board, it’s hard to win.”
Cabell Midland, which will take a 11-game winning streak into today’s title game, had six different players collect its six hits. Canterbury scored two runs, while Kuhn, Aaron Elkins and Eric Wooten each picked up an RBI.
Woodrow, which won 12 of its last 15 games to close out the year, will try to build on the experience.
“There’s not a whole lot you can tell them,” said Daniel of his message to his team following the loss. “You thank your seniors for a good effort and you thank all your players. They did a good job, but they fell a game short.
“This is something we can build. on. We’re a young team. Being around the environment and the pressure has got to help you.”
Fairmont Senior (28-6) and Herbert Hoover (30-4) will begin today’s Championship Saturday with the Class AA championship at 10 a.m. The Class A final between Magnolia (31-4) and Charleston Catholic (28-9) will begin at approximately 1 p.m., while the AAA final will conclude the afternoon around 4 p.m.
WW 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
CM 031 010 X — 5 6 0
WW: Hunter Greco, Josh Rakes (3) and Daniel Rose. CM: Seth Kinker and Aaron Wlkins. WP: Rakes (8-4). LP: Greco (6-3). Hitting — WW: Cole Williams 1-3, Hunter Halstead 1-3 (2B). CM: Taylor Kuhn 1-3 (RBI), Bryton Jobe 1-3, Cody Ballengee 1-2 (R), Eli Canterbury 1-1 (2R), Aaron Elkins 1-3 (R, RBI), Eric Wooten 1-3 (RBI).
Records — WW: 20-11, CM: 23-10.