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Bridgeport advances to AA finals

CHIP ELLIS | Saturday Gazette-Mail
Chapmanville’s William Copley tags Bridgeport’s Zach Hineman as he heads to second base.

Tyler Skidmore’s complete-game effort for Bridgeport didn’t come easy Friday evening.

The 6-foot, 200-pound senior kept Chapmanville off balance with mainly one pitch, and the Indians’ offense made the most of its limited opportunities to come away with a 3-1 victory over the Tigers in the first Class AA semifinal at Appalachian Power Park.

The Indians will take on Independence at approximately 4 p.m. today in the championship game. Bridgeport last won a title in 2000 in Class AA and finished runner-up in Class AAA in 2010.

Skidmore surrendered just one earned run on six hits with eight strikeouts and two walks on 101 pitches. He needed 20 pitches to get out of the first inning after walking the leadoff batter, but didn’t allow a run to score. Skidmore allowed Chapmanville’s leadoff hitter to reach base in five of the seven innings, stranding five runners.

“When I threw my bullpen I had a lot of bite on my curveball,’’ said Skidmore. “I actually made a comment, ‘That thing’s never broke that much.’ I went in after the fourth inning and somebody said, ‘Man, that curveball is really biting tonight.’

“I said, ‘Yeah, it’s breaking from their forehead to the dirt.’ I didn’t have much of a slider. My fastball was so-so. I didn’t have a lot of life on my fastball. There are games when you go out there and you feel like you’re mowing people down. I really had to fight through it. [My teammates] told me to throw strikes, we’ve got your back all the way.’’

Chapmanville made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh when Austin Ellis led off with a single. Skidmore, though, got the next two hitters to fly out to center field, the last on a great diving catch by the Indians’ Anthony Bonamico for the second out. Skidmore closed out his performance with a strikeout looking.

Bridgeport scored all its runs with two outs, and all three were unearned. The Indians plated a run on a passed ball in the top of the fifth inning to go ahead 2-0.

Greg Smith was the only player for the Indians with multiple hits, going 2 for 4, and Zack Hineman, the No. 9 batter, tripled and scored a run.

“They’ve done it all year,’’ said Bridgeport coach Robert Shields. “If it’s any indication, look at my hair. They’re whitening it up more and more. This team has the resiliency to score runs with two outs. They don’t fret very much.’’

Chapmanville starter Trey Dalton nearly matched Skidmore, allowing no earned runs, scattering six hits in six-plus innings and fanning five while walking four.

“They’re an excellent team and they’re not going to beat themselves,’’ said Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis, whose team had won 12 of 13 entering states. “We had a couple of mistakes and they made a couple of plays. That’s the difference.’’

Bridgeport went ahead to stay 1-0 in the top of the third on a two-out error. Smith sent a grounder past a diving Chapmanville third baseman Austin Ellis, but Tigers shortstop Tristan Thompson was backing up the play and gloved the ball deep in the hole. Thompson’s throw was wide of first base, allowing Caldera to score.

The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth when Hineman, the No. 9 hitter who led off with a triple, scored on a passed ball. Dalton induced a groundout on the next pitch to end the frame.

Chapmanville sliced its deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth on Brock Dalton’s two-out, run-scoring single to right field. The Tigers, though, failed to tie it up because Indians right fielder A.C. Caldera cleanly fielded Dalton’s sharp hit then threw out Chapmanville’s Brady Cox at the plate to end the threat. Skidmore set down the Tigers in order in the sixth, whiffing the first two hitters.

Bonamico got the run right back for Bridgeport with a two-out RBI single in the top of the sixth for a 3-1 advantage.

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at or 304-348-4811.

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