FORT GAY, W.Va. — A breakthrough weekend for the Wildcats.
The Hannan baseball team rolled through the competition en route to the 2017 Tolsia Wooden Bat championship after posting an 11-7 win over Mingo Central on Friday night and a 5-1 victory over Tug Valley in the Saturday finale held at Tolsia High School in Wayne County.
The Wildcats (4-7) — who started the year with an 0-7 record — doubled their winning streak from two to four while also securing the program’s first significant tournament win in roughly a decade.
HHS exploded for eight runs in the top of the second and never looked back during a six-inning contest against Mingo Central, a game that was ultimately cut short due to weather just before the midnight hour.
The Blue and White returned the following morning to take on Tug Valley in the championship game, which didn’t start well as TVHS led 1-0 through two complete.
The Wildcats, however, rallied with four runs in the third, then tacked on an insurance run in the seventh to wrap up the come-from-behind win and a weekend’s worth of positive memories.
Following the tournament, third-year HHS coach Tad Greathouse was very pleased with not only the events of the weekend … but the past couple of weeks in general.
Greathouse was also glad to see his troops get to enjoy something like this after all of the effort they’ve put in this season.
“We started the year with seven losses and we’ve lost double-digit games on our schedule to the weather, so this has been a very frustrating year for us in a lot of ways,” Greathouse said. “Give the kids a lot of credit though because they have continued to work hard and get through the tough times together … which shows their character.
“We started to put some things together coming into this tournament and we really found ourselves playing well this past weekend … and I couldn’t be happier or prouder of these guys for what they have accomplished. The hard work is starting to pay off and it’s definitely the best time to be playing our best ball.”
After a scoreless first in the opener against MCHS, the Wildcats sent a dozen batters to the plate in the top of the second — which resulted in eight runs on seven hits, two walks and a pair of errors.
Senior Nick Hughes singled in both Christian Holland and Matthew Qualls with the eventual game-winning runs with nobody out, which ultimately started the path to an 8-0 advantage.
The Miners, however, plated six runs with two outs in the bottom of the third after producing two hits, two walks and a pair of Hannan errors — which trimmed the lead down to 8-6 through three complete.
The Wildcats padded their lead in the fourth as Holland singled in Corey Hudnall for a 9-6 contest. Sid Ross drove in Sawyer Casto with a groundout in the fifth, then Dalton Coleman followed one batter later with a single that plated James Bledsoe while securing a six-run lead.
MCHS added one final score in the fifth as Jude reached on an error and scored on a groundout for an 11-7 margin. HHS had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth when play was stopped late Friday night.
Hannan outhit the MCHS by an 11-2 overall margin and also committed two of the eight errors in the contest.
Holland was the winning pitcher of record after allowing six unearned runs, two hits, three walks and also hitting three batters over three innings of work. Ellis took the loss for Mingo Central.
Holland, Qualls, Casto and Kevin Morehart led Hannan with two hits apiece, followed by Coleman, Hudnall and Hughes with a safety apiece. Hughes and Ross also drove in a team-high two RBIs apiece in the opening round win.
Evans and Ellis had the lone hits for the Miners.
The Wildcats fell behind in the championship game as Spaulding delivered a two-out single that plated Vance for a 1-0 TVHS lead through two complete.
The Wildcats, however, answered in a big way in the third as a bases loaded walk allowed Bledsoe to come home for a tie game, then Holland ripped a bases-clearing double to right-center — giving the Blue and White a 4-1 edge midway through the third.
A dropped third strike ultimately allowed HHS to tack on an insurance run in the seventh as Morehart scored on a 2-3 conversion, giving the Cats a 5-1 lead. Tug Valley went down in order in its half of the seventh, giving Hannan the tournament championship.
Tug Valley outhit the guests by a 6-4 overall margin and both team committed an error apiece in the contest.
Morehart was the winning pitcher of record after allowing zero runs and four hits over five innings of relief while striking out one. Rahe took the loss for the hosts.
Holland, Morehart, Coleman and Qualls each had a hit for the victors. Holland drove in three RBIs and Morehart scored twice.
Horn and Spaulding paced Tug Valley with two hits apiece, followed by Vance and Rahe with a safety apiece.
Hannan returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Huntington Saint Joseph at 5:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.