Tigers excited to make it back to state

By Paul Adkins padkins@civitasmedia.com

June 1, 2014

CHAPMANVILLE — The field is now set.

It’s only five days away until the West Virginia High School State Baseball Tournament and the Chapmanville Tigers are counting the days.

The Chapmanville Regional High School baseball team wrapped up its first state tournament berth in three years with Wednesday night’s 2-1 win at home over the Poca Dots in the Class AA Region 4 championship game at Chapmanville’s Ted Ellis Field.

The Tigers, 28-6 and ranked No. 4 in the state, are hoping to have the kind of success they had in 2011 when Chapmanville rolled to a 35-3 record and the state championship with an 8-0 win over Wyoming East.

Chapmanville, coached by Eric Ellis, will certainly have a tough task this time.

The Tigers’ state tournament opponent is the always-tough and tradition-rich Bridgeport Indians. Chapmanville and Bridgeport are scheduled to meet on Friday at 5 p.m. at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park.

The Region 3 champion Indians are 30-6 and advanced to state with Friday night’s 8-0 win at home over Petersburg.

Independence (26-7) has also punched a ticket to Charleston and the Class AA state tournament after nipping Pikeview, 2-1, in the Region 3 title game. Independence won 7-2 over Wyoming East in the Region 3 semifinals on Monday night.

Independence will take on Region 1 champion Fairmont Senior (20-7), last year’s 2A state runner-ups, in the state tourney. Fairmont downed Ravenswood, 9-4, on Friday night in the Region 1 title game.

The two semifinal winners are scheduled to meet next Saturday, June 7, at 2:30 p.m. in the state championship game. The Class A state finals are set for 11 a.m. and the Class AAA title game is to follow the 2A final at 5 p.m. on Saturday at “The App.”

Chapmanville players are thrilled to make it back to the state tournament.

For six of the Tigers’ seven seniors this is their second trip to the state tourney as they were freshmen members of the 2011 squad.

For the vast majority of the team, however, this will be their first venture to Appalachian Power Park and the state baseball tournament.

“I’ve never been to the state tournament,” said junior pitcher Tristan Thompson, who pitched the Tigers to Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Dots. “I’m just a junior. It’s going to take a complete game. We have to pitch and we have to field and hit. All the teams will be good and it’s going to take a lot.”

Senior William Copley, Chapmanville’s starting second baseman, who leads Tiger regulars with a .450 batting average, 17 doubles, four triples and 38 RBI, said it’s a good feeling to get CRHS baseball back in the state tournament.

“It feels amazing,” Copley said after Wednesday night’s game. “It feels great to go back but we’re not done. We just have to keep hitting the ball and keep playing defense. We have played together for so many years. We have come together as a family.”

Senior outfielder Brady Cox, who has a .418 batting average, said it will be good experience to play at state. Cox, along with Chapmanville pitcher Trey Dalton, helped lead the Chapmanville basketball team to its first-ever state tournament back in March.

Now it’s time to play at state on the baseball diamond.

“I feels really great to go back but we really didn’t get to play that much as freshmen,” Cox said. “We ran bases at the state tournament but it feels good to actually play and start and get a chance to hit. It’s a much better feeling to be going back.”

Cox said Chapmanville’s offensive production really improved this year. The Tigers have a .362 team batting average going into the state tourney and have outscored their opponents 286-114.

“We hit the ball much better this year and we put more time into our hitting as we did last year,” Cox said. “We were able to put the bat on the ball this year. Our pitching came together and we have worked really hard. It don’t matter who we play. We just have to go and hit the ball.

“It’s been great to be able to go to two state tournaments in one year. It’s a pretty good accomplishment.”

Senior first baseman Brent Bigley, a freshman member of the 2011 team, said it will be good to actually play this time. Bigley has a .365 batting average and, along with Cox, leads the team with three home runs.

“It feels amazing to go back. I was the bullpen catcher then on the 2011 team,” Bigley said. “Now, I actually get a chance to go out there on the field and play. We won a lot of games this season and we stuck together and played as a team. We came in here and worked every day on hitting. All in all, we played very well as a team. We have to go to state and hit the ball and go win. If we can hit the ball and play as a team we can do it. It’s a nice way to come in as a freshman and go to the state tournament and then go out in the state tournament as a senior.”

Senior right fielder Adam Dingess, who is hitting .304, said it’s a great accomplishment to reach the state tournament.

“I can’t really describe it. I’ve always wanted to go back to the state tournament,” Dingess said. “This year, we can go win it. We can do it. Last year, we really didn’t hit so well but this year we came up here and worked almost every night on our hitting. That’s all we do. We come up here and hit every night. I really think that has helped us improve this year. We can be the first graduating class to get two rings.”

Senior centerfielder Brock Dalton, who has a .327 batting average, said he played in the 2011 state tourney only as a courtesy runner.

“The first year we went as a freshman I got into it as a baserunner,” he said. “It was crazy and fun to be around. I feel glad that we’re going to be going back this year. I’m ready to get back there and play again. I’m going to practice hard and get back at it. If we can win two games we’ll be the state champions. We have to hit the ball and field well with no errors. We have to do all the little things right. It’s a different atmosphere at the state tournament. Anybody can beat anybody and anything can happen. We have to be ready for everything.”

Senior pitcher Nick Brumfield, who has signed on to play collegiate baseball at Salem International University, said he hopes to bookend his prep career with another state title.

“It feels great. We started out with a state championship ring and hopefully we can end with one,” Brumfield said. “We have to hit better than we did tonight and stay focused on the mound and pitch well. If we can do that I think that we can win the championship again.”

Third baseman Austin Ellis, who hit .351 this season, said he hopes the Tigers can keep the momentum going.

“It’s a good experience to go,” he said. “We hope that we can go back next year.”

Catcher Jordan Cook said last year’s heartache — Chapmanville’s loss to Scott in the Class AA sectional championship game — was a big motivating factor in this year’s success. The Tigers were also knocked out in 2012 by Wayne in the regional tourney following the state title season.

“I feels pretty amazing to go back to state,” Cook said. “This is the first trip for me. We got knocked out the last two years and we felt that we should have went each year. It feels good to finally get there. We blew that game last year against Scott in the sectionals. We should have won. But that’s just how baseball goes. It definitely motivated us going into this year.”

Cook said many of the Chapmanville players have been on the same team since Little League.

“We’ve been together since we have been in Little League,” Cook said. “Ever since Little League we have made it to the state tournament. I think that it was our time to shine this year and it just all fell in place for us. Nobody goes in as an underdog at the state tournament I don’t think. We just have to go in and pitch and play like we have been and hit the ball like we have been. If we can do that we can win.”

Freshman Chris Bailey, who has pitched, caught and DH’d for the Tigers this season and has a .438 batting average with 13 doubles and 27 RBI, said it’s an honor to make it to Charleston.

“It’s a great feeling. I always wanted to go,” Bailey said. “Coach said all year long that if we hit, we’ll win. We had the pitching. We just have to keep the bats alive in the state tournament. The pitching should be alright.”

Senior Brent Clay wasn’t a member of the Chapmanville’s 2011 team but nonetheless is happy to see the Tigers reach the state tournament again.

“I wasn’t here my freshman year. I was at a different school. I came over here in the 10th grade, so I was not a part of it but it feels really good right now,” Clay said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I’m excited to go. This is awesome. It’s a great feeling. We just have to go and keep playing like we are. We’re a good team. I think that we can do it.”

For Trey Dalton, it’s back to Charleston and the state tournament. He was the point guard on Coach Allan Hatcher’s state tourney bound CRHS basketball team back in March.

“It’s exciting. This is a good feeling. With basketball, it was exciting to make it to the state tournament because it was the first time that we had ever done it,” Trey Dalton said. “But this feels just as good. This is a great feeling because we have earned it. They could be the first team at Chapmanville to get two rings in baseball. We’re going to try and do our best to do it.”

Dalton, the Chapmanville left-hander, went 6-3 on the hill this season with a 2.44 ERA. He said Chapmanville’s bats have really come around this spring.

“They worked all summer hitting but I don’t hit,” Trey Dalton quipped. “I work on my pitching. I’m a left-hander and that helps the ball move. I’ve gotten a little bit stronger and bigger. That helped me a lot, too. We have to pitch well and hit well in the state tournament. That’s baseball. And we have to go and field well. It’s going to be exciting to play in front of all of those people at Appalachian Power Park. I’ve never done it before. I’ve played at the Civic Center and there was a lot of people there but we’re excited to be able to play at Power Park. Let’s go Tigers!”

The Tigers won’t be alone in the state tournament as there will be another Logan County team — the Man Hillbilllies — in the field.

Man (19-11) advanced to the state tournament with Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over Greenbrier West in the Class A Region 3 final at home.

The Billies are set to face off with St. Marys on Thursday at 7 p.m. in one of the two Class A state tournament semifinals at Appalachian Power Park. The other Class A semifinal on Thursday has Clarksburg Notre Dame taking on either Buffalo or Gilmer County. Buffalo and Gilmer were slated to play in their regional championship game on Saturday.

The Class AAA state tournament field is also set as Wheeling Park, Washington, Riverside and Hurricane are slated to take part.

Wheeling Park, making its first trip to the state tourney since 1989, beat Morgantown, 9-6 in the Region 1 title game.

Washington beat Lewis County, 12-2, in the Region 2 final.

Riverside advanced with a 9-4 win over Greenbrier East in the Region 3 championship game.

Region 4 winner Hurricane moved on to Charleston with a 9-2 victory over Nitro.

— In Tuesday’s Logan Banner Sports: Man High School’s baseball players react to the Hillbillies’ state tournament berth.