ONA — Hurricane center fielder Zach Pate gave Cabell Midland No. 3 hitter Seth Kinker all the room he needed with two outs in the seventh inning and the Redskins protecting a 1-0 lead.
“I heard my leftfielder (Branson Martin) keep saying, ‘back, back.’ I’m running back and just went out there and got it. You have to, it’s all or nothing,” said Pate, whose diving catch near the fence in center preserved Hurricane’s 1-0 victory in the Region 4 semifinal at Cabell Midland on Tuesday night.
“He made a great play,” Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield said. “That was a triple, easy, and you have Cody (Ballengee) up next and you have a chance. We had chances earlier in the game too.”
The Redskins (26-7) flipped the script on the Knights (21-12), who had won the last two regional meetings with Hurricane. Coach Brian Sutphin’s team moves to the Region 4 championship game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lola Meeks Memorial Field against Nitro, a 10-0 winner over Point Pleasant in the other Region 4 semifinal.
“Games like this, it’s a break here or there,” Sutphin said. “That was some kind of catch.”
Pate’s grab capped a game that included just seven hits and two pitchers — Hurricane’s J.T. Rogoszewski (1.81 ERA) and Midland’s Kinker (0.39) — who came in with a combined 163 strikeouts.
It marked the final chance of many that Cabell Midland had, outhitting Hurricane 5-2 and leaving two runners on in the fourth and the bases loaded in the fifth.
The game’s only run came in the fourth when Austin Hensley walked with one out. After Rogoszewski flew out to right field, Alex Dunham singled on a blooper that slipped past the center fielder. Although left fielder Colton Carter came up throwing on the relay, Hensley was rounding third and wound up scoring after the relay was dropped.
The Redskins had only two hits — both by Dunham — against Kinker, who struck out the side in the first inning and was perfect until Hensley’s walk. He walked the leadoff batter in the fifth and gave up Dunham’s second single to lead off the seventh, but left him stranded.
Cabell Midland’s final chance was anti-climactic until Pate’s catch. Taylor Kuhn grounded out to the first baseman and Cole Tilley grounded out to third.
Up came Kinker, who was 0 for 3 and was caught looking twice by Rogoszewski.
“He fouled one off to the left then he fouled one off to the right and you don’t really know where he’s going, so I was playing him straight up,” Pate said. “And he hit it.”
He was behind in the count 1-2, fouled off three pitches and got the count to full before drilling a pitch deep toward left center field, where Pate made his game-saving catch.
“It was tough, I was trying to do all I could,” Rogoszewski said. “I didn’t want to walk him and put the winning run at the plate. I laid it in there and tried to let him hit it and he hit it pretty good.
“I thought it was out. I stood there and just watched it. I saw Zach in a dead sprint, hoping it would stay in. He laid out. He made a play.”
“We talked all year about the one thing we can control is our effort and you can’t get caught up in the results,” Sutphin said. “We haven’t won anything yet. This is a four-team (regional), they don’t give out trophies after the first game.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail