It wasn’t enough for Jake Carr and Chase Delauter to simply lead their teams to superb seasons. What they did along the way was try to alter the balance of power in their respective regions of the state.
Carr (St. Albans) and Delauter (Hedgesville), a pair of senior left-handed pitchers and outfielders, flashed some amazing numbers this season as they helped change history and got their teams back to the Class AAA state tournament. For those efforts, they share the John Lowery Award as the most outstanding baseball player in West Virginia.
They finished in a tie for the honor in voting by a panel representing the West Virginia Sports Writers Association. Pitcher-infielder Lenny Washington of Class A St. Joseph finished third.
Delauter, who won the Lowery Award last year, is the third different Hedgesville player to earn the honor, joining Daniel Heleine (2013) and Jamie Conner (1991). Carr is the first SA player to receive the award.
Carr, who has signed with West Virginia University, led the Red Dragons (34-4) to their second AAA championship in three years while Delauter, a James Madison recruit, also got the Eagles (25-9) back to Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, where he pitched one of the best state tournament games in recent years that didn’t end in a victory. He threw a six-inning two-hitter with eight strikeouts and lost to Hurricane 1-0 in the semifinals.
St. Albans coach Rick Whitman marvels at what Carr has done for the Red Dragons, who are 95-23 over the past three seasons and captured their only two state titles.
“There’s no doubt about what he’s done for our program,’’ Whitman said, “and the types of numbers he’s put up not just this year, but throughout his career. He’s definitely worthy of that award. Jake has meant the world to our baseball program, and has been a great representative of it.’’
Carr lost only one game in the past two seasons, that coming in last year’s state tournament when he fired a one-hitter with 13 K’s but lost to Wheeling Park 1-0 in the semifinals. He also put up an astounding 53 straight innings without allowing an earned run this year, going more than two months between a March 30 game with Parkersburg and a June 1 state tournament game versus Park — a stretch of 11 games.
As a senior, Carr went 7-0 on the mound, was 3 of 3 on save opportunities and carved out a 0.33 earned run average. In 63 innings, he struck out 105 — an average of 1.7 per inning — and only allowed 26 hits and 14 walks.
He batted second and played center field when he wasn’t pitching, and stacked up some great numbers there, too. Carr hit .376 and drew 41 walks, giving him a team-best on-base percentage of .592. He struck out just 11 times and was second in runs scored with 38.
Delauter’s numbers were just as numbing. As a pitcher, he went 9-2 with a 0.84 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 661/3 innings — an average of 1.6 per inning. He permitted only 37 hits and 18 walks.
He hit second in the order but still racked up 52 RBIs, batting an amazing .606 (63 of 104) with eight home runs, 21 doubles and scored 52 times. His OBP was nearly .700.
“He’s an all-around player,’’ said Hedgesville coach Eric Grove. “It’s very rare for you to find someone with the skill set that he has. He hits the ball all over the park, and hits for power to all fields and he can steal a base when he needs to. His closing speed is tremendous when he’s tracking balls in the outfield.
“I was really impressed with his approach at the plate. He hit second because we wanted someone to drive in runs or be a catalyst for the hitters behind him. He really seems to get our offense kick-started.’’
Both players proved their mettle during the state tournament.
In the semifinals, Carr worked 62/3 innings of four-hit ball and fanned 11 as SA beat Wheeling Park 4-1. In the finals, a 5-0 win against defending champion Hurricane, Carr went 2 for 2 with a walk. His third-inning RBI triple gave SA a 1-0 lead and he scored moments later on a groundout to make it 2-0.
Delauter hooked up with Hurricane’s Jonathan Blackwell in a classic pitchers duel in the other AAA semifinal, needing just 78 pitches to go the distance on his two-hitter with eight K’s and one walk. Delauter retired Hurricane in order in five of his six innings, allowing both hits, all three baserunners and the game’s lone run in the bottom of the fifth. He also went 1 for 2 at the plate with a double and drew a base on balls.
However, the scope of the accomplishments by Carr and Delauter extends beyond their terrific seasons. They’ve also helped their programs make some headway in daunting territory.
St. Albans, which has now appeared in the state tournament three straight times, is making it a habit to get to Power Park. Prior to this current run, the Red Dragons had made it that far just twice in the previous 43 years. For a long time, they were just treading water in their league, the Mountain State Athletic Conference, which has produced 11 AAA titles from seven different schools since 2000. Carr and the current senior class played a big part in that.
“The biggest thing is the work ethic,’’ Whitman said. “They put in the work in the off-season. A lot of those kids were really successful growing up, then they went 16-19 as freshmen and didn’t like it. After that, they decided whatever they could do to put the work in, that’s what they were going to do. And they’ve been rewarded with a lot of success.’’
Hailing from the Eastern Panhandle, Hedgesville annually has to battle AAA powers such as Jefferson (24 overall state tournament trips, 12 titles) and Martinsburg (19 trips, three titles) just to get a sniff of postseason prosperity. The Eagles have made the pilgrimage to Power Park just twice since 2013, but before that their only other state tournament visit came in 1974.
Delauter’s presence helped make those dreams a reality.
“Whenever’s he’s on the mound, you feel like you have a chance to win,’’ Grove said. “It’s unique to put someone out there and expect him to win every time he pitches. It’s just the way he carries himself after having such high expectations coming into the season. You feel like he boosts the confidence of all those around him, especially the younger guys around him.’’