HICO — Every play in the postseason is magnified — especially mistakes.
Two costly errors and a misplayed fly ball were too much for Greenbrier West to overcome in its Class A Region 3, Section 2 elimination game with Midland Trail Tuesday afternoon.
The third-inning mistakes and aggressive baserunning from the Patriots changed a tight one-run Trail lead into a comfortable 7-2 advantage. Trail would tack on three more runs down the stretch to defeat the visitors from Greenbrier County 10-3.
The win places the Patriots in the sectional championship round at No. 1 seed Charleston Catholic starting Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Tuesday provided the conclusion of the game that started Monday before being halted by rain and lightning.
Due to pitch count rules forcing a change on the mound Tuesday for both teams, West turned to freshmen Cole Vandall and Brayden McClung in the do-or-die contest.
While both pitched admirably under the circumstances, the miscues placed the Cavaliers in a spot that head coach Doug Nickell did not want to see.
"I challenged the kids before the game. Throwing two freshmen against a team like Midland Trail, we have to make routine plays," Nickell said. "You have to play perfect baseball. I couldn't have asked for anything better out of those two. They threw strikes and they did everything we asked of them. We just didn't make plays."
The game resumed with Trail leading 3-2 with no outs and Griffin Boggs on base after he reached on an error before the rains came Monday.
Cade Kincaid walked to start things off Tuesday before stolen bases and a wild pitch put runners at second and third.
Both runners then scored thanks to a sacrifice fly from Cy Persinger and a fielder's choice from Cody Harrell.
After a walk to Seth Ewing, West had a chance to get out of the inning when Indy Eades lifted a fly ball between the second baseman and the right fielder.
What looked to be the possible third out instead fell for a single. When the ball got away in right, Ewing raced home for the third run of the inning.
With extra life, Eades stole second base, and when a ground ball to third could not be played cleanly, the speedy Eades never missed stride coming home to score.
"We are athletic and we will run the bases. We have been doing that all year," Midland Trail head coach John Mark Kincaid said. "We have had some success against everybody we've played with stealing, using the hit-and-run or taking the extra base. I am a big believer in being aggressive."
That would be all the run support that the Midland Trail pitchers would need the rest of the way.
Larry Bigham, Cade Kincaid and Cy Persinger combined to surrender just three hits and one run over their four innings of work. The only run came on back-to-back doubles from Evan McDade and Matt Mills in the fifth inning.
"I really never dreamed we would come over here and score just one run," Nickell said. "We had been swinging the bats all right. Hats off to Midland Trail. They are a really good baseball team."
After what could have been a crushing loss against Trail to open sectional play, Nickell was proud of the way his team battled back to within reach of the championship round.
"Not just to lose that game, but the way we lost it. We were up 7-2 in the sixth inning and we lost 8-7," Nickell said. "We had them on the ropes and just couldn't deliver a knockout punch. Our boys rallied and battled to the end."
MIdland Trail now turns its attention to Charleston Catholic, which it will need to beat two times in consecutive days to earn the sectional championship.
"We will have everybody but Bo (Persinger) tomorrow. We are sitting pretty if we can win tomorrow," Kincaid said. "If at the start of the season you would have said we had a legitimate shot at Catholic, I would have been happy. We are trying to get (our program) where Catholic is right now, which is a pretty lofty goal."
"The last game we outhit them, but they just flashed the leather on us," Kincaid went on to say. "We just had too many errors against them. They played some small ball, we made some errors and it snowballed in two of those innings. They are very good fundamentally."
GW 101 010 0 — 3 5 2
MT 034 102 x — 10 10 3
Pitching — GW: Evan McDade, Cole Vandall (3), Brayden McClung (7) and Cole Vandall, Brayden McClung, Vandall; MT: Bo Persinger, Larry Bigham (4), Cade Kincaid (5), Cy Persinger (7) and Cody Harrell, Bo Persinger . WP: Bo Persinger; LP: Evan McDade. Hitting — GW: Brayden McClung 1-4, Chase McClung 1-4 (2b), Evan McDade 1-2 (2b), Matt Mills 1-3 (2b, rbi), Ty Nickell (rbi), Colton Hamrick 1-3 ; MT:Bo Persinger 1-3, Cade KIncaid 1-3, Cy Persinger 2-2 (2b, sac, 3rbi), Cody Harrell 2-4 (rbi), Indy Eades 2-4 (2rbi), Larry Bigham 1-4 (2rbi), Chris Vines 1-3.