Bridgeport’s focus on the little things paid big dividends Saturday night as the Indians topped Frankfort 5-2 at Appalachian Power Park to claim their sixth consecutive Class AA baseball state championship.
The Indians (30-7) successfully converted five sacrifices in the win, with sacrifice flies by senior catcher Ethan Perry and sophomore pinch-hitter JD Love immediately producing runs.
Perry’s sac fly was part of a two-run first inning that was largely made possible when senior Vincenzo Cava reached on an error after sophomore Ryan Goff led off with a single. Indians junior pitcher Nick Stalnaker laid down a bunt to move the runners up, and Perry followed with a fly ball to center before senior Drew Harbert singled down the right-field line to score Cava and give Stalnaker a lead that he held until being relieved in the sixth inning.
Frankfort, which stranded eight runners in its first championship game appearance since 2001 after spending numerous years in the same region as the Indians, loaded the bases in the third inning and again in the sixth, but failed to get on the scoreboard until Bridgeport had a 4-0 lead.
The second-seeded Falcons (27-6) loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth when a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single by sophomore Ben Nestor allowed them to pull to within 4-2 after Bridgeport coach Robert Shields lifted Stalnaker in favor of junior Tyler Wilkinson. Wilkinson escaped further damage when he got Frankfort senior pitcher Zack Whitacre to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Whitacre, who drew the loss, could not hold the Indians off the board in his lone opportunity to produce a shutdown inning, and it took all wind out of the Falcons’ sails. Cava was sent to first after being hit by a pitch with one out, and Stalnaker followed with a single. Perry then produced his second RBI of the game with a single to shallow left field before Frankfort senior reliever Michael White could get out of the inning.
Senior Connor Robe got the save, getting a 6-4-3 double play off a grounder by Brady Whitacre to end the game.
Perry was 2 for 3 with two RBI for Bridgeport, which finished the season by winning its last six games and 10 of its last 12. Harbert also finished 2 for 3 at the plate. The Indians did not lose to a Class AA team in 2019, going 26-0 against same-class opponents.
Frankfort senior Caleb Hare went 2 for 3 in the loss. There were no extra-base hits in the game.
Frankfort is the sixth different team dispatched by the Indians in title games in the last six seasons. Bridgeport’s state record run of championship game wins has come against Independence, Chapmanville, PikeView, Weir, Wayne and Frankfort.