CHAPMANVILLE — Adam Dingess saved the day for the Chapmanville Regional High School baseball team in its 2-1 victory over Capital on Friday night at the Daffer Memorial Tournament at Ted Ellis Field.
Down 2-0 in the top of the seventh, Capital cut the Tigers’ lead in half as pitcher Jacob Williams tripled to left field off Chapmanville starter Dustin Conley to score Justin Palmer who led off with a walk.
Then with one out and Williams standing on third, the Cougars looked as if they had tied the game as Kavin Kincaid blooped a single down the right field line past first base and into right field.
Williams had to hold a bit, thinking the ball might be caught but when it dropped he broke for home. Chapmanville right fielder Dingess then scooped up the ball and fired right on target to Tigers’ catcher Scottie Thompson, who tagged out Williams on a close play at the plate.
Two outs and one to go.
Instead of a 2-2 game and possible extra innings, Conley then struck out Brandon Thomas to end the game and preserve the win.
Chapmanville, ranked No. 9 in the state in Class AA, improved to 9-4 on the season with the win.
Tigers’ coach Eric Ellis said he was glad his team was able to hold on, thanks to Dingess’ fine defensive game-saver.
“He’s got a strong arm out there,” Ellis said of Dingess. “That’s the fourth guy that he’s thrown out on the bases this year. He’s got a strong arm but he’s accurate too. That’s the reason that he’s out there. We’re not playing enough to get our offense going so we’ve been a pitching and defense kind of team.”
Conley, a senior right-hander, notched the complete game win on the hill. He went all seven innings and allowed just one run and three hits with 14 strikeouts and three walks. He improved to 3-2 on the season. Heading into the game, Conley had a 2.45 ERA with a team-leading 36 strikeotus in a 20-inning worksheet. He’s now fanned 50 on the season in 27 innings.
Conley got out of a first inning jam as the Cougars had two runners on with a walk and a single by Palmer. Chapmanville’s bench seemed to get a bit frustrated by several border strikezone pitches that went for balls.
“He battled through it,” Ellis said. “We had a situation and we had to sit down a few players, so we called on Dustin tonight to come out and pitch on three days rest. He threw a heck of a game. I’m proud of these guys. We had some guys out there that are not normally in there. A lot of guys stepped up and it was a good team win for us.”
Junior left fielder Brady Cox was Chapmanville’s offensive catalyst.
Cox went 2-for-2 at the plate, tripling off the center field fence to lead off the fifth inning and then scoring on a passed ball to make it 1-0. He later drove in the second run in the sixth with a deep sacrifice fly to center to give Chapmanville a 2-0 lead.
Cox has gotten off to a slow start at the plate with a .222 batting average with six hits in 27 plate appearances and a team-high 13 strikeouts. The 2-for-2 performance against Capital rose Cox’s average 54 points to .276.
Ellis said Cox has been taking extra swings in the baseball building. The hard work paid off against the Cougars.
“Brady had a really good night. He’s been struggling lately,” Ellis said. “But he came in and took some extra batting practice the last few days. He’s capable of having this kind of game every game. He just has to relax. He’s a big strong kid and that’s why you have to continue with a guy like that.”
Williams took the loss for Capital, a Class AAA team which dropped to 5-10. He went all six innings and gave up two runs and five hits with three strikeouts, two walks and two hit batters.
Jordan Cook, starting in center field, had a double for Chapmanville. Brent Bigley had an infield single and Conley added a bunt single. Tristan Thompson also had a hit.
Capital committed three errors in the game. The Tigers didn’t have any.
Class AAA Nitro, coached by Chapmanville graduate Steve Pritchard, last year’s state runner-up, beat 2A Wayne 5-4 in Friday’s Daffer tourney opener. The Wildcats are 7-3, while Wayne dropped to 4-7.
Matthew Harrison had two hits to lead Nitro. Ryan McDonough had a double and two RBI. Kip Brewer had a hit and two RBI.
Andrew Stone pitched a complete game win for the Wildcats. He struck out seven and walked two over seven innings and yielded four earned runs and four hits. Kodie Bowen took the loss for the Pioneers.
The tourney was scheduled to conclude on Saturday as Chapmanville was set to play Wayne and Nitro was slated to take on Capital.
All players on Friday night wore gray caps with the number 21 on the front, in memory of Tiger great Larry Coffindaffer Jr., a former Chapmanville player who was killed in a car accident in 2000. Coffindaffer led the Tigers to the Class AA state championship in 1997 and a state runner-up finish the next year before going on to play at Marshall University.
“It’s always a hard tournament mentally for us,” Ellis said. “It’s especially hard for my dad, myself and Coach (Josh) Rakes who are close to the Coffindaffer family. It gets emotional but we’re glad that we get to do this every year. We have four quality teams with good programs and good kids. It’s just an enjoyable tournament.”
* Heading into the game, Nick Brumfield was leading Chapmanville’s pitchers as he is 3-0 on the season with a 0.88 ERA. The junior right-hander has fanned 23 batters and walked just one in 16 innings of work.
Lefty Trey Dalton is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He’s thrown 11.2 innings and has struck out 17 while allowing only four earns runs.
Chase Roberts is 1-0 with a 4.42 ERA.
* Scottie Thompson was leading Chapmanville’s regulars at the plate with a .414 batting average, including a double and a team-best 10 RBI. Thompson has a team-high 12 base hits.
Brent Bigley and Austin Ellis were each hitting .417 with five hits in 12 plate appearances.
Shortstop Tristan Thompson had a .385 batting average with a team-best three doubles, eight RBI and 4-of-4 in base stealing.
Outfielder Brock Dalton is hitting .346 with one home run and eight RBI. He’s 7-for-7 in steals.
Dingess was checking in with a .316 batting average with three RBI, two doubles, a triple and three steals.
Austin Watts has Chapmanville’s only other home run so far this season.
Dustin Conley is batting .286 with two RBI, a double and two stolen bases.
Tyler Neil is 6-for-6 in base stealing, while Cox is 4-for-4.
Chapmanville has a .303 team batting average and a 2.61 team ERA. As a team, Chapmanville has stolen 39 bases and have only been caught twice.
* After taking on Wayne on Saturday, the Tigers return home to host Herbert Hoover on Monday at 7 p.m. in a Cardinal Conference game. Chapmanville then goes to Van on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. contest before returning home to face off with sectional rival and Cardinal team Scott on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Chapmanville goes to Wayne on Friday night for another game with the Pioneers.