By RICK KOZLOWSKI
MARTINSBURG - Three of the state's brightest baseball stars used the grandest of stages in West Virginia to demonstrate why they are Class AAA All-Staters as well as future NCAA Division I players.
Jonathan Blackwell, Jake Carr and Chase Delauter all shined brightly during last weekend's state tournament.
Each turned in sterling performances for their respective teams at Appalachian Power Park.
Carr pitched a three-hitter for eventual state champion St. Albans in a 4-1 victory over Wheeling Park in one Triple-A semifinal, while Blackwell of Hurricane and Delauter of Hedgesville waged one the best pitching duels the state has seen in a 1-0 victory by Blackwell in the other. Both pitchers tossed two-hitters with one walk in that semifinal.
Additionally, Delauter reached base two of three times Blackwell allowed someone on, doubling and walking.
Delauter's offensive prowess to go with his pitching ability are a reflection as to why he signed on as a two-position player - a pitcher and an outfielder - at James Madison.
Blackwell and Carr are headed to Coastal Carolina and West Virginia, respectively, as strictly pitchers.
Now, two of them - Carr and Delauter - head up the Class AAA all-state team as co-captains of the first team named by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Delauter raised his batting average by slightly more than 100 points to .606 and lowered his earned run average by more than a run to 0.84.
Carr finished won all seven of his decisions and posted an 0.33 ERA while striking out 105 and walking just 14 in 63 innings.
Seven of the 15 first-team honorees hail from the Mountain State Athletic Conference, including all three pitchers, and five from the six-member Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference.
In addition to Carr and Blackwell, the third pitcher is Cody Sharp of MSAC member Spring Valley, who has signed with Marshall.
The other MSAC honorees are infielder Joel Gardner, who scored the lone run in Hurricane's win over Hedgesville in Charleston, and George Washington's Aidan Johnson; outfielder Easton Petitt of Cabell Midland; and utility player Tyler Cox of Hurricane.
Besides Delauter, the EPAC first-teamers also include infielder Grant Harman from Martinsburg, outfielders Hunter Coe of Hedgesville and Blake Hartman of Musselman, and utility player Taylor Tennant of Jefferson.
The rest of the first-team lineup includes catcher Tyler Haskins of Ripley, infielder Trevor Thomas of Wheeling Park and utility player Hunter Fansler of Woodrow Wilson.
Despite Johnson's move from catcher to the infield, he was able to secure the most combined votes from coaches and sports writers among the infielders. He batted .457 with six home runs and 34 runs batted in.
His replacement behind the plate, Haskins, also hit six homers while batting .410.
Of the pitchers, Carr added a .576 batting average and .592 on-base percentage because of his 41 walks; Blackwell finished with a 10-1 record and 1.08 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings; and Sharp won three of four decisions and struck out 76 batters.
Trevor Thomas of Wheeling Park batted .386 with 27 runs and Gardner batted .479 with six homers and 51 RBI to round out the infield. Gardner also won eight games as a pitcher with a 1.59 ERA.
In the outfield, Hartman finished one hit short of topping .500 for the season as he batted .494. Coe found himself playing in the shadow of Delauter and would even move from right field to center field when his teammate pitched. Coe batted .410 with seven home runs and 42 RBI. Petitt, who has the perfect first name of bat-maker Easton, hit .470 and drove in 36 runs.
While Delauter had the top numbers among the utility players, one really sticks out - 52. He scored 52 runs, a number expected as the second hitter in the lineup, but Delauter also drove in 52 runs.
Tennant, who drew Jefferson's most difficult pitching assignments, including twice against Hedgesville, won nine of 13 decisions, struck out 87 and posted a 1.45 ERA). He batted .425 as the team's second baseman and produced 33 doubles.
Of the two other utility players, Fansler batted .531 with seven home runs and 29 RBI, and Cox, an infielder when he doesn't pitch, also had a strong season for the Redskins.
The second team is led by Noah Cummings, an infielder from state champion St. Albans, who was named the second-team captain.
The pitchers include Cabell Midland's Chad Heiner, Parkersburg South's Colin Bryant and Ayden Hodges, who tossed a one-hitter in St. Albans' 5-0 victory over Hurricane in the state championship game.
Nick Loftis of St. Albans earned second-team honors as a utility player a season ago but was named as an infielder this time.
The rest of the second team includes catcher Chas McCool of John Marshall; infielders Jacob Shia of Wheeling Park and Hunter Bellomy of Spring Valley; outfielders Andrew Sydenstricker of Capital, Dane Peterson of Ripley and Charlie Pierson of Riverside; utility players Ashton Staubs of Martinsburg, Caleb Taylor of Morgantown, Blake Tilley of Cabell Midland and Cam Thomas of Capital.