By Cam Huffman
SHADY SPRING —
Woodrow Wilson junior Josh Rakes stood at the middle of the diamond at Shady Spring High School Thursday night, with all eyes focused in his direction.
His team led 4-2 in a Class AAA sectional tournament game against Oak Hill, but he was surrounded by Red Devils on every base, and there was only one out.
Rakes had already thrown more than 100 pitches, and he was admittedly a little gassed when Oak Hill’s Chris Hysell stepped into the batter’s box with ideas of changing the game with one swing.
That’s when Rakes found a little extra energy.
He got Hysell — the Red Devil pitcher, who had a strong outing of his own — to fly to left field, too shallow for the runners to advance. He then set down Daniel Pritt with his seventh strikeout of the game to give the Flying Eagles the win and a chance to face Shady Spring in the winner’s bracket today at 4:30 p.m.
“The story in sectionals is win and advance, and that’s what we did,” said Woodrow Wilson head coach Mark Daniel. “We left too many people on base and didn’t get the big hit. We looked at too many pitches. I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but hopefully we got it out of our system.”
Rakes finished the complete-game effort, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits and four walks. He struck out seven and hit a batter.
“I was a little bit tired, but I knew my defense had my back,” said the junior hurler. “We just played a good game all the way around. I just had to bare down so we could get that win.”
Rakes’ only trouble came in the second inning when Oak Hill took a 1-0 lead on an Adam Jones RBI double to deep center field that rolled up the hill and scored a run.
That lead held until the fourth inning, when the Flying Eagles broke the game open with a four-spot.
Chris Metrick started the inning with a solo home run to center field to tie the game, and after Jacoby Webb reached on an error and stole second base, Daniel Rose gave Beckley its first lead of the game with an RBI single to right field.
Woodrow added a third run on a Hunter Greco RBI double over the head of the Oak Hill right fielder, and Logan Wriston completed the rally with a single to center field that scored the fourth run of the game and put the Flying Eagles ahead 4-1.
“We thought (Hysell) was up in his pitch count, and we changed a few things at the plate,” said Daniel. “It seemed like it worked, because we put the ball in play a little bit better.”
Oak Hill cut into the lead in the sixth when Josh Lokant drove in a run on a groundout with runners at first and third.
That gave the Red Devils some life, and they threatened by loading the bases on a pair of walks and a Bubba Smith single in the seventh.
But Woodrow had unfinished business with rival Shady Spring — the two schools split a pair of regular season meetings — and it quickly put out the fire and ended the rally.
“We’re pretty excited,” said Rakes. “We’re going to come out with our energy up to beat them.”
Greco finished 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI for the Flying Eagles, while Wriston was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Metrick was 2-for-3 with a homer.
Oak Hill was led by Hysell, who finished 2-for-4, and Jones, who was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Hysell pitched six innings, allowing four runs, only one earned, on seven hits and three walks. He struck out eight Flying Eagle hitters.
On in relief, Ray Sullivan struck out the side in the sixth, working around a walk.
Woodrow and Shady will start today’s action as the sectional proceeds.
“It’s going to be a tight game,” said Daniel. “The team that makes mistakes will be the one that gets put in a hole.”
The loser will play Oak Hill in an elimination game immediately following the first game.
— E-mail: chuffman@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.
OH: 010 001 0 — 2 7 2
WW: 000 400 X — 4 7 0
OH: Chris Hysell, Ray Sullivan (6) and Josh Lokant, WW: Josh Rakes and Daniel Rose WP — Rakes. LP — Hysell. Hitting — OH: Bubba Smith 1-3, Austin Nolen 1-4 (2B), Chris Hysell 2-4, Daniel Pritt 1-3, Josh Lokant 1-3 (RBI), Adam Jones 1-3 (2B, RBI) WW: Hunter Greco 2-4 (2B, RBI), Logan Wriston 1-4 (RBI), Chris Metrick 2-3 (HR, RBI), Jacoby Webb 1-2 (2B), Daniel Rose 1-2.
Records: Woodrow Wilson (16-9), Oak Hill (7-15).