By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
OAK HILL —
It was just over a month ago when Chad Quesenberry’s Oak Hill Red Devils made the drive to Kanawha County and knocked off the St. Albans Red Dragons 12-11.
So when the Dragons made their return trip to Fayette County, they had revenge on their mind.
St. Albans (11-11) got hits from eight of its nine batters and defeated Oak Hill 10-4 Friday night.
Red Dragons coach Rick Whitman felt the performance was a real turn-around from the first game in the series.
“We threw more strikes (tonight),” he said. “(Last game) we had a five-run lead in the top of the seventh inning and dropped two fly balls, walked three or four guys. They got some hits and tied the game up and ended up beating us in extra innings.”
St. Albans pitcher Chase Bishop commanded Friday’s game, allowing four runs on nine hits, while striking out four and only walking one Red Devils batter.
“Our pitcher was down in the strike zone,” Whitman said. “They were putting the ball in play. We were making a few plays. It’s always easier when your pitcher is throwing strikes. It keeps your defense on their toes.”
Both Bishop and Oak Hill pitcher Austin Harler took a while to settle in, allowing three runs each in the first inning.
But as the game progressed, so did Bishop, settling into the pace of the game and throwing off-speed pitches that kept the Red Devils guessing.
“He’s not an overpowering pitcher,” Whitman added. “He’s not going to strike guys out. But he commanded the strike zone.”
After giving up all of Oak Hill’s runs in the first three innings, Bishop only gave up three hits in the final four innings, easily picking up the win and bringing the Red Dragons to .500 with 11 wins and 11 loses.
While the loss will sting for Oak Hill, it provided a learning experience for the young Oak Hill squad, who were playing without senior Chris Hysell.
“We swung it,” Quesenberry said. “That was a positive for us. When we did hit it, it was up the middle. Our timing is right. It’s not a physical issue. It’s not a mechanical issue. It was just the pitch selection.”
One positive for the Red Devils was the play of Derek Bloomfield. Bloomfield came in during the fifth inning to relieve Harler on the mound, and went 3-for-4 from the plate while scoring two runs.
“I thought our pitchers threw well,” Quesenberry added. “Harler didn’t throw bad and Bloomfield came in for a nice change of pace. There are positives in every game, sometimes it’s easier after a loss to point out the negatives. That doesn’t help kids. We had some positives. Derek swung well, pitched well out of relief. Harler was around the plate.”
Quesenberry was quick to take the blame for his team’s loss, noting a lack of focus on St. Albans from the Red Devils.
“I don’t know if it’s looking forward to the big game with Woodrow, I don’t know if it’s prom season or if its the layoff we had,” he said. “Our hearts just weren’t in it. That falls squarely on me. That’s game preparation. You do the things that you think are right. We go back to the drawing board. We’re going to get down here early (Saturday) and take some balls and hopefully right the wrong.”
Oak HIll will welcome Class AAA No. 7 Woodrow Wilson to their home, for an early 11 a.m. start today. The game time was moved up in advance of Oak Hill’s prom.
Getting a win over the Flying Eagles would go a long way to boost the confidence of the streaking Red Devils.
“It’s huge,” Quesenberry said. “You go back and for a long time, there wasn’t a bigger rivalry than Woodrow Wilson and Oak Hill — being a Wyoming County guy, I’ll tip my hat to that one. They’re a good ball club. They’ve got a good coach. The kids know each other. We’re 10 miles apart. It’s kind of a backyard brawl in its own right.”
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St. Albans 10, Oak Hill 4
SA: 232 020 1 — 10 11 2
OH: 301 000 0 — 4 9 3
SA: Chase Bishop and Josh Burkes, OH: Austin Harler, Derek Bloomfield (5) and Jacob Crouch. WP — Bishop. LP — Harler. Hitting — SA: Bobby Grishaber 3-5 (2B, 2 RBI), Burkes 1-5 (RBI), Peter Theodos 1-5, Hunter Chandler 1-4 (2B), Brandon Johnson 1-4, Joseph Call 2-3 (RBI), Chase Bishop 1-3, Adam Bowen 1-3( 2 Runs), OH: Bloomfield 3-4, Daniel Pritt 2-4, Crouch 1-4 (2 RBI), Ricky Epperley 1-2, Harler 1-3, Jacob Cassidy 1-3 (SB).