Hedgesville's James Wright avoids the slide by Parkersburg South's Jordan Braniff and throws to first to complete a double play in the third inning.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Both Parkersburg South and Hedgesville ended long absences from the state baseball tournament when the two played each other on Friday, and nerves played a part in the outcome.
The teams combined for 11 errors and Parkersburg South accounted for seven, which led to five unearned runs as Hedgesville earned a 6-3 win and advanced to the Class AAA state title game today.
Hedgesville coach Dirk Webb admitted the Eagles, who were making their first state tournament appearance since 1974, played less than a perfect game, but he's still taking the win.
"It's always nice to win the first one," Webb said. "We didn't play the type of game we really wanted to play today but coming down here, any time you can get a victory in the first game it gives you a chance for a state championship."
Thanks largely to the efforts of starting pitcher Cody Butts, the Eagles (28-7) will have that opportunity.
Butts tossed all seven innings for Hedgesville, striking out two and walking one. All three Parkersburg South runs came in a flurry in the fourth inning, in which the Patriots registered all four of their hits.
Butts also had a pair of RBI singles to help his own cause, driving in a run as part of two-run Hedgesville outbursts in both the first and third innings.
Despite his success on the mound, Butts said he didn't have his best stuff on Friday and that getting through the Parkersburg South lineup was more challenging than it appeared.
"Not a lot of pitches were working for me but I have to go with them," Butts said. "I mainly stuck with my fastball all the way. It breaks, it's a two-seam and that's about all I threw. I didn't throw hard today, but I have good off-speed pitches and go-to pitches, and these guys behind me, they're always there with me. They're like family to me and I trust them with everything I have."
While the Eagles made four miscues of their own, the defense was able to come up with plays to erase the mistakes and minimize damage.
Parkersburg South wasn't able to do the same thing.
Two errors in the first inning and one in the third contributed to a 4-0 Hedgesville lead, and that cushion proved too much for the Patriots to overcome.
South's roster is made up of 13 seniors who helped the program to its first state tournament appearance since 1987, but even with the veterans, coach Matt Null admitted nerves may have gotten the best of his squad, especially early.
"It was a strange day," Null said. "We've not had nerves throughout the postseason, but we were a little tight [today]. We had a week layoff and we were so used to playing - we played 35 baseball games - and then we shut it down. We were shaken early, we came back and battled and tried to make it a baseball game but at the end of the day we didn't make plays."
Tyler Anders doubled for the Eagles and James Wright scored two runs.
Jacob Wilcox singled and drove in a pair of runs for Parkersburg South (26-10) and Bradley Brubaker added an RBI double. Hedgesville will play Cabell Midland in the championship game 45 minutes after the conclusion of today's Class A title game.
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