CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Herbert Hoover High School baseball team is taking care of its business, having beaten every Class AA on its schedule.
Its goal on Thursday night at Falling Rock’s Jeff Holliday Field was to avenge one of its three defeats to two Class AAA teams.
Tristan Fields struck out 12 Point Pleasant batters and, despite two balks, two errors and two hit batsmen, survived in a 4-2 victory — Hoover’s 18th of the season coming on Senior Night in Falling Rock.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever done that in a game, balk twice,” said, Fields, who caught five Point batters looking. “I’ve balked once but not twice.
“To be honest with you, I’ve been playing ball with the seniors on the team since I was little and tonight I didn’t want to let them down. Tonight was our night. We’ve wanted Senior Night since we were freshmen.”
The Huskies (18-3), No. 1 in the Class AA Daily Mail baseball poll, seemed headed toward another loss to Point when he hit leadoff hitter Alex Somerville, had an error on a pickoff throw, a balk and a fielder’s choice for a 1-0 deficit.
The score went to 2-0 in the third when Somerville singled and scored on a hit by No. 3 hitter and catcher Austen Toler.
Meanwhile, Somerville — Point’s pitcher — seemed intent on not allowing Herbert Hoover to have one of its big innings.
“He did a good job, gave us a chance to win,” Point Pleasant first-year coach Andrew Blain said. “He kept us right in the game like he should. I’m pleased, I’m not disappointed. Everyone wants to win, but there’s a lot of positives we can take tonight.”
What the Big Blacks (13-7) didn’t do was swing at close, two-strike pitches.
Fields used the curveball as his strikeout pitch, busting the outside corner and leaving five of the Point batters standing, which had their coach questioning their two-strike approach.
“We were off and actually worked three days this week in the gym on the ball on the outer half,” Blain said. “I thought we did a poor job tonight of taking the outer half away, and didn’t make the adjustments necessary to beat him. He’s one of the best arms we’ll see all year, if not the best.”
The Huskies pecked away at the lead with a run-scoring double by cleanup hitter Cody Bowen in the third.
Otherwise, it was the bottom of the Hoover lineup that did the game-sealing damage in the fifth. A walk to No. 6 hitter Matt Justice was followed by a two-run single from Tommy Parrish and an RBI single by Joel Ridenour for a 4-2 lead.
Fields enjoyed a three-up, three-down sixth and – like much of the night – battled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth. Point No. 5 hitter Bruce McDermitt hit right as Fields, who flipped the ball to catcher Matthew “Scooter” Farmer for the second out.
Levi Russell lined out to second base to end it.
“I would like to see him start off a little better,” Hoover coach Brian Young said of Fields, who had 135 pitches. “He throws a little bit more pitches than we want him to. This is day 11 since he’s thrown last. He does a nice job of battling back when he gets in situations. He seems to find that focus and bear down.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail