HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The bats went silent again … and they’ll stay that way for the next several months.
The Wahama baseball team had its magnificent 2019 campaign come to a thud-like halt on Tuesday night during a 7-0 setback to host Huntington Saint Joseph in the Class A Region IV Championship finale held at Smailes Field in Cabell County.
The White Falcons (24-8) — who were held hitless for six innings Monday night in a 9-2 setback at Claflin Stadium — found other ways to get on base early, but the guests still didn’t produce their first safety until the opening at-bat in the top of the fourth.
The Irish (20-10-1) also struggled to find any kind of early offensive rhythm, but the Blue and Gold caught a few breaks in their half of the third that eventually led to a permanent cushion.
Noah Beter started the rally with a one-out walk, then advanced to second on a balk call. Corey Sweeney grounded out to short, but Beter was able to advance to third on the throw across the diamond.
With two away, Lenny Washington provided a single to left-center that allowed Beter to score for a 1-0 advantage.
Ethyn Barnitz provided the Red and White’s first hit when the freshman singled to center to leadoff the top of the fourth. WHS ultimately left runners stranded at first and second in the frame.
Bronson Barker led off the home half of the fourth with a single, then moved to second on a Max Adkins walk and later scored on an error that put Caleb Smith aboard at second.
Luke Stollings lifted a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Adkins to come plateward for a 3-0 edge. Smith moved to third on a Beter single, then Sweeney knocked in Smith on a groundout to shortstop.
With two away, Washington doubled down the left field line as Beter came in for a 5-0 contest. Washington eventually scored on a Hunter Eplin single to right for a six-run cushion through four complete.
Wahama tried to get a two-out rally started in the fifth as Jonathon Frye singled to left, then Tanner Smith was hit by a pitch and Barnitz walked to load the bases. The bases stayed packed, however, as a pop-up to shortstop ended the threat.
The guests went down in order in the sixth, then HSJHS added an insurance run in its half of the frame as Sweeney led things off with a single and later scored on three consecutive walks with nobody out.
Frye again had a two-out single in the seventh and advanced to second on an overthrow, then moved to third base on a single by Smith to left field.
The runners, however, stayed at the corners as the next batter flew out to right field — completing the seven-run outcome.
Huntington Saint Joseph — which captured its first state berth since 1989 — outhit the guests by a 7-4 overall margin and also played an error-free contest, while Wahama had four miscues in the setback. The hosts also stranded 10 runners on base, while WHS left nine on the bags.
Eplin was the winning pitcher of record after allowing two hits and five walks over 6.2 scoreless innings while striking out five.
Smith took the loss after surrendering six runs (two earned), five hits and four walks over 3.2 frames while fanning one. Wahama used a total of five different pitchers in its final outing of the spring.
Frye paced the White Falcons with two hits, with Smith and Barnitz also adding a safety apiece.
Washington and Barker led the Irish with two hits apiece, with Washington also providing a team-best two RBIs. Beter, Sweeney and Eplin also had a hit each for the victors.
It was the final baseball game for Wahama seniors Ethan VanMatre, Tanner Smith, Cooper Peters, Antonio Serevicz, David Hendrick, Jacob Fisher, Brady Bumgarner, Jonathon Frye and Tyler Bumgarner in the Red and White.
The White Falcons went 13-3 in Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play, which landed them second place overall.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.