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SA coach Whitman

St. Albans coach Rick Whitman (arms extended) talks to his players following Saturday’s Class AAA sectional win against George Washington.

For the longest time on Saturday, it looked like St. Albans’ reign as state baseball champion was finally coming to a close. Then Carson McCoy took matters into his own hands.

McCoy launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth — just the second hit of the game for the Red Dragons — to finally awaken the offense and SA kept right on pounding its way to a 9-2 victory against George Washington at Loftis Field. The win allowed the Red Dragons (22-7) to remain alive in the championship round of the Class AAA Region 3 Section 1 double-elimination tournament.

With each team holding one loss, the decisive game is set for 7 p.m. Monday at Loftis Field in St. Albans.

McCoy’s timely hit not only got SA on track, it helped secure his own pitching victory. After allowing two runs four batters into the contest, McCoy gave up just one more hit over the next 51/3 innings, permitting only one GW runner to get into scoring position. Tyson Burke closed it out with an inning of scoreless relief.

St. Albans, which won the state title two years ago before COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season, was down 2-0 and only a couple of innings away from elimination before McCoy’s one-out blast in the fifth. In all, the Red Dragons racked up nine runs in their final two at-bats, combining five hits with eight bases on balls in that stretch.

Key hits in the late SA uprising were provided by Garrett Comer (two-run single) and Burke (RBI single). Two runs crossed on bases-loaded walks and two other runs scored on a balk and a wild pitch that bounced over the backstop.

“You can’t ever let your faith wane in an elimination game,’’ said SA coach Rick Whitman. “You’ve got to keep plugging, got to stay confident with the guys and their abilities. The McCoy kid gave us a big swing there and once we got it tied up, we kind of rode the momentum the rest of the way.

“But his home run kind of overshadowed his pitching. That was only his third start all year. You take the ball in an elimination game and he’s a little amped up in that first inning and had a little struggle, but after that settled down and we couldn’t ask for anything more.’’

George Washington (18-16) entered play with a six-game winning streak, including a 7-2 decision over St. Albans on Wednesday in nine innings as Isaac McCallister and Comer were locked in a 2-2 pitchers duel through seven.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

Preps Sports Reporter