CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Herbert Hoover’s Hunter White was a contributing member of his team’s 2013 Class AA state championship team before becoming a hero at the State Tournament.
This year he’s more than that, proving on Monday night at Falling Rock that his effectiveness comes on the mound as well as the plate.
The senior struck out 11 Chapmanville batters in a battle of state-ranked teams, tossing a complete game in a 5-1 Hoover victory at Jeff Holliday Field.
White had the game-winning hit in Hoover’s 8-7 Class AA State Tournament semifinal victory over Independence last year.
On Monday, he was efficient with 101 pitches and dominating at times with two strikeouts in each of the first five innings against Hoover’s Region 4 foe.
“I needed to pitch this year because with Cody (Bowen) and Tristan (Fields), we needed another starter,” said White, whose only surrendered run was unearned.
White increased his season strikeout total to 38 in 20.2 innings. He improved his record to 3-0 and dropped his earned run average from 1.54 to 1.04 for the Huskies (12-2), who hold down the top spot in the Daily Mail Sports Writers’ Class AA Baseball Poll.
He and catcher Matthew “Scooter” Farmer call their pitches. They kept Chapmanville off balance and White has improved his ability to throw the slider, curveball and fastball for strikes anywhere in the count.
White strengthens a pitching staff that returned Fields and Bowen and has an earned run average of 1.81.
“We got into a groove to the point where I almost don’t have to give signs, they know,” said Farmer, Hoover’s third-year starting catcher. “The way Hunter has his control now is tremendous. He has a spectacular curveball, and his slider … both his breaking pitches are working great this year every game.”
The Tigers (10-2), who are fourth in the Class AA rankings, were caught looking three times and, despite getting runners on the corners with two outs in the second, couldn’t score.
Herbert Hoover had the same misfortune, managing to scrape some runs despite leaving 13 runners on base. Matt Justice walked with the bases loaded to give Hoover a 1-0 lead in the first, and a Farmer two-run double and Bowen RBI single extended the advantage in the second. Hoover’s fifth run came by virtue of an error – the second of two for Chapmanville – in the fifth inning.
However, the Huskies left the bases loaded in the first and second innings and runners on second and third in the fifth.
Hoover coach Brian Young couldn’t bring himself to criticize the lack of timely hitting, especially after watching his team strike out 16 times in a 10-5 loss to Class AAA Point Pleasant on Friday.
“We put the ball in play, so that’s the big thing from the other night,” said Young, whose team struck out seven times against Chapmanville. “We made the adjustment. We came back today and put the ball in play. I can live with that, but we have to figure out a way to get the big hit with runners in scoring position.
“But, when you play good defense, it’s a little easier to live with.”
Chapmanville dropped its second consecutive game. The Tigers dropped a 6-1 decision to Wayne in the Daffer Tournament at Chapmanville.
“Our last couple games, our plate approach hasn’t been very good,” said Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis, who is in his 13th season for the Tigers since taking over for his father, West Virginia Baseball Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame member Ted Ellis. “I’m not taking anything away from White. He pitched a good ballgame, mixed it up good, got his breaking ball over, but we’re looking at good stuff and swinging at bad.”
The Tigers will visit Point Pleasant on Wednesday for a 6:30 meeting with the Big Blacks. Hoover visits Mingo Central for a 7 p.m. game today before playing host to Wayne on Wednesday.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at email@example.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail