Big Blacks rout Red Devils


By Paul Boggs - pboggs@civitasmedia.com



Point Pleasant senior Abe Stearns (5) delivers a pitch to a Ravenswood batter during Tuesday night’s non-league baseball game at Point Pleasant High School.


Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

POINT PLEASANT, W. Va. — In life, when things are free, it’s best to take advantage of them.

That’s exactly what the Point Pleasant High School baseball team did on Senior Night on Tuesday night, as the host Big Blacks benefited from 11 free bases — and some solid pitching from senior ace Abe Stearns — en route to rolling the Ravenswood Red Devils 9-1 in a non-league tilt.

The Big Blacks’ batters were actually hit five times, including four by Ravenswood relief pitcher Ethan Mahan, and drew six walks.

Those free passes set up some sacrificing by the Big Blacks, along with Point Pleasant posting seven hits, including three innings of two hits apiece.

Point Pleasant plated a single run in the opening inning, then answered the Red Devils’ lone counter with three of its own in its second at-bat.

From there, the Big Blacks crossed twice in the fourth frame, before scoring three more times in the sixth stanza to build the 9-1 lead — and eventually make a winner out of Stearns on Senior Night.

With the victory, Point Pleasant raised its record to 6-20, and delivered Stearns and Tyler Mitchell a nice senior sendoff by routing Ravenswood of Class A.

Mitchell was unable to play on Tuesday due to an injury, but did throw out a ceremonial first pitch — to Stearns.

“That’s a special pair of boys. They are my first four-year group of players that I’ve had. I got to see them develop from their freshman year to their senior year and they made tremendous strides. Abe (Stearns) has been a four-year starter and Tyler (Mitchell) has been a three-year varsity guy. Those guys have really set the tone,” said fourth-year PPHS head coach Andrew Blain. “Hopefully, their mentality level, their approach, everything they do will send a good message down to the younger guys.”

The Red Devils — meanwhile — dropped to 16-6, as their non-conference contest against Wahama on Monday was rained out.

It’s been a challenging season for the young Big Blacks, as only five players entered the year with any type of varsity experience.

Stearns was —by far — the most experienced Big Black.

He got the Senior Night pitching start, and stymied the Red Devils to only one unearned run on six hits with six walks.

Stearns struck out 10, faced the Ravenswood lineup three times through, and worked the first five-and-a-third innings before being relieved with a high pitch count.

At the plate, he went 2-for-4 with a second-inning RBI-double, which put the Big Blacks ahead at 2-1.

He also scored a pair of runs.

Stearns, who has committed to playing college baseball at Potomac State College in Keyser, did what Blain and the rest of the Big Blacks’ coaching staff asked him to do.

“Abe threw the ball well. What we ask of our starting pitchers is that they throw the ball well enough and give us a chance to win. He ran his pitch count up a little bit, but he didn’t get some calls that I thought he should have gotten. I thought he was doing a good job of hitting the corners. But once he found his breaking ball in the later innings, he was able to mix that in and keep the hitters off-balance, even though he had thrown a lot of pitches,” said Blain. “He gave us a chance.”

Stearns also stranded 11 Red Devils, including the bases loaded in the first and fifth — and with runners at first and second in the fourth and last.

The Red Devils’ only marker came in the second inning — when Mahan led off with a walk and reached third on a Stephen Dawson single combined with a throwing error.

With two outs, Ravenswood’s Blake Bennett singled to score Mahan, but Stearns stranded Bennett at second — by striking out starting counterpart Lakin Tucker.

Sam Pinkerton picked up Stearns’ shop with an out in the sixth —and promptly induced Bennett to ground into a 4-3 double play.

In the seventh, Pinkerton allowed singles to Chase Swain and Andrew Anglin, but struck out two Red Devils —before inducing a flyout to centerfield to end the game.

Ravenswood actually outhit the Big Blacks 8-7, paced by Swain and Anglin with two hits apiece.

However, Point Pleasant’s patience at the plate paid off — in the form of 11 free bases.

“I preach to these guys that when you get on base, things can happen, but you have to get on base,” said Blain. “You can score runs and runs are going to win the games. Once we got guys on, our hitters took advantage of some mistakes. We were able to put the ball in play and make things happen. We were able to execute some bunts and some small-ball. We were able to run a little bit and make them (Red Devils) make some decisions,” said Blain. “It worked out well for us, but we have to do a good job of executing in order for us to have a chance. We’re not going to out-talent anybody, so in order for us to win games and stay in games, we’re going to have to do everything pretty much right.”

Miles Williams went a perfect 3-for-3 to pace the Big Blacks, as his two-run single in the second made it 4-1.

In the first, after Stearns singled and Carter Smith walked, Williams’ beautiful bunt single down the third-base line loaded the bases, setting up a Brody Jeffers sacrifice fly for Point Pleasant’s initial run.

In the sixth, after Williams was hit by a pitch and Tucker Mayes doubled, Jeffers singled to left to score Williams and Mayes — making it 8-1.

Jeffers then crossed on an RBI-groundout by Joe Herdman for the final Point point.

Prior to Tuesday, the Big Blacks’ last win was a week ago at Mason County rival Wahama.

Blain said these late-season triumphs can spur a young squad heading into the postseason.

“Ravenswood is a very good team, we knew that coming in, and we had to throw one of our better arms at them in order to give us a chance. It was Abe’s (Stearns) Senior Night, so it worked out well for him,” said Blain. “Hopefully, we can take this momentum and carry it on for the rest of the week and go into next week with the tournament.”

The Big Blacks traveled to Poca on Wednesday, before venturing to Gallia Academy on Thursday and hosting Ritchie County on Friday.

Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106

Point Pleasant senior Abe Stearns (5) delivers a pitch to a Ravenswood batter during Tuesday night’s non-league baseball game at Point Pleasant High School.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2017/05/web1_5.4-PP-Stearns.jpgPoint Pleasant senior Abe Stearns (5) delivers a pitch to a Ravenswood batter during Tuesday night’s non-league baseball game at Point Pleasant High School. Paul Boggs/OVP Sports

By Paul Boggs

pboggs@civitasmedia.com

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