By LOGAN DARNELL
For the Coal Valley News
CHAPMANVILLE - The Van Junior-Senior High Bulldogs (1-17) played the Chapmanville Regional High Tigers (14-8) on April 29 at Chapmanville's home field. After a ceremony honoring Chapmanville's graduating seniors, the ballgame was quickly underway.
Freshman Will Kirkendall went to the mound for CRHS, and senior Jacob Smith took up the task for Van.
Smith hit a groundball and reached on an early error and stole second during senior left fielder Caleb Price's at-bat. Though Price grounded out, Smith advanced to third and set up a scoring chance. Kirkendall came in clutch for the Tigers, however, and got the third out before Van could take an early lead.
A triple and a walk in the bottom of the second put Chapmanville where they wanted. A wild pitch allowed senior shortstop Conner Mullins a run, and an RBI double from sophomore right fielder Casey Hurley took junior designated hitter J.D. Ferrell home. A groundout from senior center fielder Brennan Williams gave Hurley ample room to score a third run for Chapmanville.
At the top of the second inning, junior short stop Jacob Jarrell walked and advanced on a single by senior Center fielder Jarod Puckett. Puckett was put out advancing to second. Freshman designated hitter Isiah Perdue was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. The scoring opportunity was put away by a lineout, though, and the side retired.
Senior second baseman Jordan Rogers was hit by a pitch at the bottom of the inning, and a triple hit by Mullins brought him home. A single from Ferrell then brought Mullins home. A walk on Hurley put runners in the corners, and junior third baseman Chase Berry kept the line moving with an RBI single.
Williams hit a single after an error allowed Hurley to score. Berry scored on a groundout hit by freshman first baseman Evan Plumley, and Williams scored on a wild pitch just before the third out. At the end of two innings, the score stood 9-0.
The third and fourth innings saw no runs added to the scoreboard, but Chapmanville at last found their tenth run at the bottom of the fifth. A walk on Rogers and a single by Mullins set up a familiar scene for the two teams. With one out, an error advanced both runners to third and second. A sacrifice fly hit by Hurley got Van the second out, but Rogers scored to make the game 10-0 and let the Tigers walk off victoriously.
Postgame, Van coach Stephen Price compared the game to the season, highlighting learning points that the Bulldogs' numerous newcomers must learn. Too much space between outfielders and infielders allowed more runs than the team might have had if the defense been closer. That said, coach Price sees improvement at the plate.
"We're swinging the bats better We're hitting from top to bottom, not killing it, but we had a couple of hit balls they made plays off of."
The second inning was, of course, the low point of the game. Outside of it, the team stayed in the game. Looking forward, Price hopes to make the most of what the team has learned heading into the postseason. Turning their attention to A-level schools, Van's hope will be in the leshort stopons combined with their variety in pitching.
Tigers coach Josh Rakes commended Chapmanville's effort facing Van, a team he says always puts effort in their play. Kirkendoll and the defense behind him showed up well, and it paid off. Looking ahead, coach Rakes says, "[We're] trying to clean up a few things, get things right, and hopefully take a run at it next week."
Pitching is the Tigers' forte as a team, and they anticipate their own improvements on offense and on the field can take them far.
Conner Mullins went 4-for-4 with 4 RBI to lead CRHS. Jarod Puckett and Joseph Bias both led Van with 1 hit.
The Coal Valley News will provide coverage for baseball and softball postseasons.