MADISON — Earlier this season, Chapmanville Regional coach Eric Ellis made mention of his young pitching talent and thought it would pay dividends for his program down the road.
Well, on Tuesday evening, the future was now.
Freshman Chris Bailey rescued the Tigers with 4 2/3 innings of one-hit relief and belted a two-run homer to boot as state-ranked Chapmanville rallied for an 8-5 victory over Scott to wrap up the Class AA Region 4 Section 3 title.
The underdog Skyhawks (10-21) vaulted into a 5-1 lead, bunching all five of their hits into the first inning. However, Bailey and junior Tristan Thompson combined for 6 2/3 innings of impeccable relief, allowing one hit and striking out 13, eight by Bailey.
“He’s a heck of a player,’’ Ellis said of Bailey. “He’s an unconventional freshman — he plays like a junior or senior.
“Nick [Brumfield’s] a senior and we started him and he didn’t have his best stuff, and they hit it where we weren’t early, so we went to Chris and Chris stepped up and gave us four, five quality innings. Then Tristan’s probably our 1 or 2 [pitcher] and we brought him in and he was throwing pretty good heat and finishing the job for us.’’
With the Tigers up 8-5, Thompson faced seven batters over the final two innings, fanning five and getting a popout, permitting just one runner to reach on an infield error.
Remarkably, those final two innings were played in hurry-up mode — taking a total of about 10 minutes — as a wicked storm approached. Thompson’s fast flings certainly helped keep things moving before the rains arrived.
“That was another reason we wanted to get Tristan in there at the end,’’ Ellis said, “to try and get us six quick outs and he came in and accomplished that.’’
Chapmanville (26-5), ranked No. 4 in AA, was forced to rally from a substantial early deficit as the Skyhawks got a two-run single from Dylyn Brown and a two-RBI double by Alex Miller in the bottom of the first and went up 5-1.
Bailey entered for Chapmanville and allowed a double and a base on balls to his first two batters, but retired 12 of the next 14 hitters, issuing just two more walks. Four of his eight Ks were called strike threes.
“I just went in there and threw strikes,’’ Bailey said, “and did everything I could. I just knew my guys behind me had my back.’’
The Tigers then whacked their way back into the game, getting four runs to tie it at 5-all in the third, the first two coming on a two-run blast by Bailey over the wall in center field.
“I was just trying to get a base hit,’’ Bailey said, “and knock in the guy on second.’’
Chapmanville broke that tie with a three-spot in the fifth, with the first two runs crossing the plate on wild pitches. The final insurance run scored on Brock Dalton’s RBI single.
Other key hitters for the Tigers were Thompson, William Copley and Jordan Cook, all with two hits apiece.
“It’s somebody different each day that steps up and does the job for us,’’ Ellis said. “This is a pretty good baseball team and it’s just a team effort all around.’’
Scott coach Brett Kuhn said his team’s dry spell after the first inning was reflective of how the season’s gone.
“We’ve really struggled offensively all year,’’ he said, “and I think those last six innings, that’s a microcosm of what our year’s been like.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to their pitching. The Bailey kid came in and really mowed us down. We just couldn’t get anything together. Then I felt like the Thompson kid was throwing lights out right there at the end.
“It’s easy for Scott to get up for Chapmanville, and the effort my kids gave I can never complain about. We’ve struggled at times this year, but we absolutely battled until the end and as a coach, that’s all you can ask for.’’
A moment of silence was observed before the start of the game for the two miners killed on Monday night in Boone County — Eric D. Legg of Twilight and Gary P. Hensley of Chapmanville.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.