CHARLESTON — South Charleston made a genius out of Ken Samms. And Samms made the Black Eagles a state baseball champion once again.

Arik Sikula and Ryan Flanagan drove in two runs apiece and South Charleston used a four-run sixth inning to beat Mountain State Athletic Conference rival Cabell Midland 7-4 in the Class AAA title game Saturday.

Last year, Samms spent his only season as an assistant coach at South Charleston and took over as head coach this year when Mike Carte left to become an assistant at Riverside.

Samms took a team that was unranked in the final regular-season poll to its first state tournament since 1998, when it lost to Jefferson in the finals.

“We’re underdogs. Nobody expected us to win. You come in a little looser when you’re thinking the target’s off your back,” Samms said.

Not only did the first-year coach squeak out a 16-15 win over Woodrow Wilson in the regional finals, he outdueled state icon John Lowery at Jefferson in Thursday’s tournament semifinals, then brought South Charleston its first baseball title in 28 years.

“It’s not me. Sometimes I think coaches get too much credit,” Samms said. “The coaches, the only thing they do is prepare the players. We do very little hitting and catching.”

Cabell Midland won its conference tournament this season but couldn’t add to the state Class AAA title it won in 2003.

“It’s a tough one to swallow. It’s hard to talk when you get beat,” said Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield.

South Charleston twice came back from deficits to take the lead, going ahead to stay with four runs in the sixth inning.

Sikula followed the second error of the game by Cabell Midland third baseman Pat Stapleton with an RBI single. A wild pitch by Dakota Nelson put runners at second and third, and Flanagan brought them home with a single up the middle.

Matt Hall relieved Nelson and gave up Travis Hudson’s RBI single to put South Charleston ahead 7-4.

“This is the best feeling in the world,” Sikula said. “No one gave us a chance against Jefferson. We proved that we belonged because we beat them. And we came out and kept our composure in this game.”

In the fourth inning, Nelson relieved Cabell Midland starter Lane Fowler with two runners aboard. South Charleston’s Trey King and Sikula then hit one-out RBI singles to tie the score at 2-2, and Stapleton let a grounder go between his legs off the bat of Flanagan to score another run.

Mason Chapman answered for Cabell Midland in the fourth with a run-scoring triple to the wall in centerfield off South Charleston starter Frank Mullins, and Alex Whitt brought Chapman in two batters later with a sacrifice fly to left field for a 4-3 lead.

Magnolia 10, Liberty Harrison 1

CHARLESTON — Leave it to Magnolia’s youngest starter to deliver for old-timer Dave Cisar.

Andrew Robinson, a 14-year-old freshman, tossed a three-hitter and Magnolia scored seven times in the sixth inning for a 10-1 win over Liberty Harrison in the state Class AA baseball championship game Saturday.

It gave Cisar his first title in 33 years as Magnolia’s coach.

“I’m kind of speechless,” Cisar said. “This is not about Dave Cisar. It’s about Magnolia baseball. This is about six seniors who have been with me for four years.

“You win state championships with very good pitching and excellent fielding. I believe we had that today.”

Cisar, who coached in his 1,000th game this season, lost in the championship game in 1984 to Wayne and in 2003 to Lincoln. He was on a brief hiatus when Magnolia won the title in 1989.

Robinson didn’t allow a hit until Bradley Clevenger’s single to lead off the fifth inning. He struck out six and walked two.

“Actually I got real nervous last night and I didn’t sleep very well. But I knew whenever I got to the park, it was time to get things done,” Robinson said.

Robinson lost his shutout in the sixth on Erick Robey’s RBI groundout that cut Magnolia’s lead to 3-1.

“You’ve got to tip your hat to their pitcher,” said Liberty Harrison coach Pete Iquinto. “We’re a fastball-hitting team. He did enough to keep us off balance and did a good job.”

Magnolia (24-8) loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the sixth off Liberty Harrison starter Justin Knight.

Ryan Gains relieved Knight and gave up Eric Mason’s RBI flyout, pinch-hitter John Taylor’s RBI single and Brandon Carroll’s two-run single. Devin Franz relieved Gains and surrendered a double to Josh Sims that brought in three more runs.

Liberty Harrison (26-9) made it to the championship game for the first time since winning the title in 1998. That was Iquinto’s only title in 32 years of coaching at Lumberport and Liberty Harrison.

Buffalo 10, East Hardy 0

CHARLESTON — All-stater Alex Foltz and top-ranked East Hardy had the reputation for the ferocious bats, but it was No. 2 Buffalo that put on the hit parade Saturday.

Nathaniel Martin and Justin Whittington each drove in three runs and Buffalo beat East Hardy 10-0 for the Class A championship Saturday night.

The game was stopped after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

It was Buffalo’s first title in any boys sport.

“Today, that ice was broken. They’ll never say they don’t have a champion. Now they’ve got a champion,” said Buffalo coach Jimmy Tribble.

East Hardy (29-2) may have still been recovering from a 15-11 semifinal win over Charleston Catholic that ended early Saturday. East Hardy’s players didn’t get to bed until 2 a.m.

The 11 runs allowed hours before was an embarrassing season high for East Hardy, but Saturday’s mercy-rule loss was a shocker. East Hardy fans and players left in silence after the game.

“Everything we hit was right at them,” said East Hardy coach Raymond Snapp. “Give them credit. They’re the best team we played this year.”

East Hardy had a .377 team batting average but managed only two hits and three total baserunners. The Cougars were retired in order in the final three innings.

Foltz, a .480 batter who had three hits Friday night, didn’t hit the ball out of the infield and went 0-for-2 Saturday.

“I think you saw what we stress and teach. Defense and pitching have got to be a constant,” Tribble said. “It’s like a concrete footer on a house. If that’s wrong, it’s all messed up.

“Every time they hit it, we were there to grab it. And when they got a hit, they got a hit, but no more. That’s why we won the ballgame.”

Buffalo (29-4) pounded out 12 hits. The Bison scored twice in the first inning, once in the third and broke the game open with five runs in the fourth.

Travis Meadows and Kyle Chapman hit back-to-back doubles off East Hardy reliever Nathan Delawder in the fourth. Bryan Bigham followed with an RBI single and Martin doubled home two more runs for a 7-0 lead.

Adam Scott, who also had a bases-loaded walk during a two-run first inning, finished off the big rally with a sacrifice bunt that scored Martin.

The game ended on Whittington’s two-run single with the bases loaded in the fifth.

The last state championship game to be halted by the 10-run rule came in 1999, when Jefferson beat Hurricane 11-1 in Class AAA.

East Hardy was the 1987 champion, the last time it played for the title.

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