By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
Two Fayette County baseball teams have advanced deeper into postseason play and will begin Region 3 tournament action today.
Fayetteville (17-14), which lost a 4-1 regular season decision to PikeView Friday, will play at Greenbrier West at 6:30 p.m. today, while Valley (21-7) will entertain Man in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
Fayetteville coach Dan Poland says it took some bad midseason outings for the Pirates to figure out they better pick it up a little. A 17-0 loss to Independence on April 9, followed a few days later by a 13-3 setback to Oak Hill, provided the impetus.
“We basically got embarrassed,” Poland said of the Independence loss. “The coaches kind of tightened the reins.
“We’ve played a lot better since that game. We’re more competitive now. They’ve responded in every practice.”
Senior pitcher Aaron Krise, who had a 7-3 record with three no-hitters (one a perfect game) and a 3.60 ERA as of early last week and was batting about .360, said, “We’ve had our ups and downs. We’re sometimes a team that can’t be beat, or we’re a team that explodes.
“Right now, we’re clicking.”
Trey Phares has compiled a 5-2 record that includes two no-hitters and has an ERA of about 3.90.
Krise said he and Phares “have been real consistent” this season. “We worked hard on it in the offseason,” Krise said. “I worked on my curveball; it helped me a lot.”
Against West, the Pirates have to “learn to sit on the ball and smash it,” said Krise, who was the starting catcher when Fayetteville last appeared in the state tournament in 2010, Poland’s first year. “We just have to come out there and play like the way we’ve been playing lately.
“We need to keep away from the errors and have minimal damage.”
Shortstop/pitcher Jake Holland (.380), center fielder Brian Gore, first baseman James Criss, and catcher/designated hitter Jake Cogar are among the other players Fayetteville will count on this week.
The Cavaliers (12-10) are led by junior catcher Jared Jennings, who is hitting .412 with five home runs and 40 RBIs. He hit for the cycle in West’s win over Montcalm for the Region 3, Section 1 championship.
Dustin Yoakum is batting .465 and Mikey Goddard .371.
Junior Aaron Ransom (3-5, 5.98 earned run average) gets some of the Cavaliers’ biggest assignments. He has 53 strikeouts and 33 walks in 45 2/3 innings pitched. Junior Chase McClung (3-3, 6.48) also gets a bulk of the mound work.
In Smithers, the state-ranked Greyhounds are led by pitchers Druw Bowen (6-0, 2.21 ERA, 64 strikeouts in 38 innings), Arik McGinnis (3-3, 3.23 ERA, 74 strikeouts in 39 innings), Drew Jones (4-0, 1.27 ERA) and Cody Winter (2-2, 3.92, 30 strikeouts).
McGinnis is batting .483 (43-for-89) with four homers, 14 doubles and 40 RBIs, Winter is hitting .481 (39-for-81) with five homers, eight doubles and 25 RBIs, Raeshawn Breckenridge is hitting .441 (41-for-93) with eight homers, 12 doubles, four triples and 40 RBIs, and Bowen is batting .394 (37-for-94) with five homers and 33 RBIs.
Admission to each game is $6 for adults and $5 for students, as mandated by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.
assistant sports editor Gary Fauber contributed
to this story.