Happy birthday, coach
HURRICANE - There's nothing better than a win on your birthday.
Drew Lawrence shut down Cabell Midland in the final four innings and drove in the go-ahead run as top-seeded Hurricane handed coach Brian Sutphin in a 9-5 victory on his birthday in the semifinals of the Mountain State Athletic Conference Tournament. A crowd of about 300 attended at Lola Meeks Field Monday night at Hurricane High.
"It's a great feeling,'' said Lawrence of coming in and giving his team a boost. "We have a great team, and guys work hard. There's no better feeling than that.''
Fourth-seeded Princeton blasted No. 2 St. Albans 18-6 in a mercy-rule, five-inning win in Monday's earlier semifinal.
Hurricane (23-4), also the No. 1 team in the Gazette's Class AAA state ratings, takes on No. 8 Princeton (20-6) at about 7 tonight in the MSAC championship game. No. 5 St. Albans (22-5) meets Midland at 5 p.m. in the consolation.
Hurricane jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first of Monday's late game. Midland, though, knotted it at 4-all in the top of the second, highlighted by No. 9 hitter Eli Canterbury's three-run home run to left field.
The Redskins surged ahead 5-4 in the bottom of the second on Riley Metz's two-out, run-scoring single. The Knights tied it at 5-all in the top of the fourth as Canterbury tripled off Hurricane's Lawrence, who relieved starting pitcher Metz after three innings. Canterbury then scored on Lawrence's wild pitch.
Hurricane quickly bounced back behind Lawrence's two-out, RBI single to seize the lead for good at 6-5. Austin Hensley's two-out, two-run double put the Redskins in front 8-5.
After Lawrence allowed Canterbury's triple in the fourth, Lawrence set down 12 straight Midland hitters and didn't allow any more hits or runs and struck out five, including the last two batters.
"I was just throwing my pitches,'' said Lawrence, who earned the win. "As long as I pitch to contact, I'm fine. When I try to be macho, that's when I get in trouble. I don't have anything to worry about. If [opponents] hit the ball, the outfield does a pretty good job.''
"Drew's just solid,'' added Sutphin. "He's a guy who works hard and he's gotten better every year. We're definitely happy he's on our side. He got ahead of guys and that was a big thing.''
Lawrence finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Hurricane and Metz rapped out two hits and knocked in two runs. The Redskins' Ace Estep went 2-for-2 with a double and an RBI.
"We came out with some life and swung the bat good in the first inning,'' said Sutphin. "That hasn't been our M.O., but I think this time of the year guys are starting to have better approaches at the plate.''
In the first game, Princeton. erupted for 13 runs in the top of the third and downed St. Albans. Jack Hickman went 4-for-4 with a homer and three runs batted in to pace Princeton's 16-hit attack. Other standouts were Austin Southcott (3-for-4, double, four RBIs), Corey Quick (2-for-4, RBI) and brother Alex Quick (2-for-3, RBI).
It marked the second victory of the season for Princeton over the Red Dragons. The Tigers earned a 9-6 win at SA on March 31.
The Red Dragons jumped out to a 3-0 advantage after one, but Princeton's explosion in the third turned that into a 13-3 Tiger lead behind home runs from Hickman and back-to-back shots from J.C. Pennington and Brycen Allen. Pennington drove in three runs Monday.
Justin Hunt (3-for-3) led St. Albans' offense with a double, homer and three RBIs. Dylan Ramsey, hitting .571 on the season, went 2-for-3 with a double for the Red Dragons. Joey Dodrill doubled and had two RBIs.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.