The Chapmanville Regional High School baseball team beat Scott, 6-5, in eight innings on Monday night at Chapmanville’s Ted Ellis Field in Game 1 of the best-of-three Class AA sectional tournament series and are just one win away from taking its second straight sectional title.
The Tigers are Skyhawks are set to meet in Game 2 on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., weather permitting, at Scott. There is a chance of rain on Tuesday afternoon across southern West Virginia.
If Scott is able to knock off Chapmanville, a third and deciding game would then be played on Wednesday night in Chapmanville.
The Tigers, though, would like to wrap it up tonight.
Chapmanville improved to 20-11 on the season with last night’s win, while the Skyhawks, which are enduring a rough season, dropped to 4-17.
It was a frustrating win for the Tigers.
Upset-minded Scott led 4-0 early before Chapmanville batters were able to adjust to Skyhawks’ off-speed pitcher J.C. Spears, whose fastball was clocked at only 65 miles per hour.
Tigers’ senior ace pitcher Caleb Toparis, who is headed to play at West Virginia State, had control problems as he walked seven batters over 7-2/3 innings.
Scott batters were patient, particularly early in the game, and took advantage of the free passes issued by the hard-throwing Toparis, who has a fastball in the mid-80s.
Chapmanville, though, was still able to get the job done.
Shortstop Tyler Cox ended up having the game-winner – a bases loaded, two-out single to left in the bottom of the eighth, lifting the Tigers to victory.
Many had predicted a Chapmanville blowout.
During the regular season, the Tigers mercied the Skyhawks, 17-7, in six innings.
It was a nail-biter this time.
“It was frustrating but that’s tournament baseball,” Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis said. “Just like I told the Scott coaches ... I didn’t expect to come in here and blow anybody out. A lot of people expected that but once you get to tournament time everybody is 0-0 and you start a new season. Scott played great. They hit the ball well and did some good things. Fortunately for us, we hung in there and battled. It came down to the last play and that’s just tournament baseball. I’m just proud of our guys for scratching out a win.”
Tied 5-5 heading into the bottom of the eight, Chapmanville third baseman Joe Woody got it started with a leadoff double.
Woody was replaced on the basepaths by pinch-runner Dylan Saunders, who ran over to third after Craig Johnson’s sacrifice bunt.
The Tigers then attempted to win the game as Cliff Hall was called on to lay down a squeeze bunt. Hall fouled it off but worked the count and drew a walk to put runners at the corners.
Chapmanville right fielder Zack Maynard then walked to load the bases with one out.
Toparis went down on a called third strike for the second out before Cox saved the day for the Tigers.
“Tyler has had a really good year for us,” Ellis said of Cox. “That was a big hit, especially since we had two outs. That inning could have got away from us. We missed a squeeze but I’m proud of the kids because they battled and battled. We didn’t play great but in tournament time it’s not always about playing great it’s about winning the game and that’s what we did.”
Toparis struck out 12 batters in a no-decision. He allowed five runs and seven hits and also committed two throwing errors in the field. Left-hander Jordan Banks then got the last out in the top of the eighth inning and was credited with the win.
Scott jumped on Toparis early as Devin Bayer and Forrest Spurlock led off the game with back-to-back walks. Both ended up scoring as Spears drew a bases loaded walk and Bayer later scored on one of Toparis’ errors.
Toparis then settled down.
“Caleb is one of those guys that if he can get through the first inning or two he usually gets into a rhythm and gets stronger,” Ellis said. “The start of the game was very frustrating.”
The Skyhawks made it 4-0 in the top of the third as Tyler Ramsey had an RBI double and later scored on another Chapmanville error.
Chapmanville got on the board in the last half of the third as Toparis doubled and later scored on Josh Easterling’s RBI double to the center field fence to make it 4-1.
The Tigers then had their big four-run fifth to go on top 5-4.
Toparis got it going as he ripped a triple to left field and came around to score on a Scott error in the outfield.
Later in the inning, Banks lofted an opposite field sacrifice fly to left to cut the Skyhawks’ lead to 4-3.
Chapmanville then tied it with Woody’s RBI single to right.
The Tigers went ahead 5-4 as courtesy runner Saunders stole home on a forced steal play with two outs and runners at the corners.
“After the four-run inning we kind of exhaled,” Ellis said.
But the Skyhawks weren’t going to give up.
In the top of the sixth, Toparis was cruising along with a strikeout and fly out to right.
Toparis then struck out Bayer for the third out, but Chapmanville catcher Kirk dropped the third strike and the ball bounced all the way to the screen, allowing Bayer to reach first on the pass ball. Bayer took second on another pass ball and tied the game 5-5 when he scored on an errant throw to first by Toparis after a tapper back to the mound by Shawn Ballard.
Scott was in business in the top of the seventh as Ramsey led off with a ground rule double to right when the ball got caught in the fence. Toparis then fanned two, issued a walk and got Cody Blevins to fly out to Hall in center for the third out.
Toparis and Cox were each 2-for-5 at the plate for the Tigers.
Easterling went 2-for-2 with one RBI, while Woody was 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI.
Banks and Johnson added hits for CRHS.
Spurlock, Thompson and Ramsey had two hits each for Scott.
Chapmanville outhit the Skyhawks 10-7.
Both teams committed three errors.
Johnson is expected to take to the hill in tonight’s Game 2 in Madison. The right-hander is 3-4 this season with a 3.85 ERA. Johnson has throwning 36-1/3 innings and has struck out 45 and walked 17.
“We’re going to throw Craig tomorrow night and hopefully he will give us a good game,” Ellis said. “My gut feeling tells me that we’re going to hit the ball a little better tomorrow night. We hit the ball in the air too much against their off-speed pitcher. As the game went on we hit the ball a little bit harder. Our kids were just a little bit over anxious at the plate tonight. We made the adjustments as the game went on.”