CHARLESTON — Oak Glen surely made it interesting but the results were still the same as expected.
The Chapmanville Regional High School baseball team moved on to play in the Class AA state championship game with Friday morning’s 8-5 victory over the Golden Bears in the 2A state semifinals at Charleston’s Appalachian Power Park.
The Tigers (30-5) are scheduled to play Bridgeport in Saturday afternoon’s much anticipated state final in a rematch of last year’s state semifinals which was won by the Indians 3-1. Bridgeport rolled past Pikeview, 17-7, in Friday’s other state semifinal.
The Cinderella Oak Glen Golden Bears saw their season come to a close at 17-18.
On the strength of senior Tristan Thompson’s pitching, the Tigers raced out to an 8-0 lead after five and a half innings and looked to be in cruise control.
Then something happened.
A ballgame of sorts broke out.
Thompson, who had tossed a no-hitter heading into the sixth, got tired in the sun and the heat, allowing a leadoff single to Zach Porter and then hitting Zach O’Brien and walking Noah Feicht to load up the bases with nobody out.
Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis went to the bullpen with Austin Ellis.
Ellis, though, was tagged for three more runs. Two of Thompson’s runners scored as well and Oak Glen found itself down just 8-5 after six innings. Two of those runs came on first baseman Derek Maddox’s monster two-run double which bounced once to the 400-foot sign in straight-away center. Swiger’s RBI infield single then made it a three-run margin.
Oak Glen relief pitcher Alex Shuman then got the Tigers out in order in the seventh, striking out the side and the Golden Bears found themselves down to their last three outs.
Austin Ellis then settled down, getting three straight outs after yielding a leadoff single to O’Brien.
Just in case, Coach Ellis had senior lefty Trey Dalton warming up down in the bullpen had Austin Ellis got into any real danger.
He didn’t, and the Tigers closed out the Golden Bears to advance to the state championship game.
Chapmanville and Bridgeport are set to meet around 2 or 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, 45 minutes after the Class AAA final between Nitro and Jefferson.
Thompson notched the win the mound, allowing just two runs on one hit with six strikeouts over five innings. He walked four and hit two batters.
The lefty Porter took the loss for Oak Glen, working five innings and giving up five runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
Chapmanville coach Eric Ellis said he was glad to make it back to the state championship game. the Tigers last won one in 2011.
“Tristan threw well. He didn’t have his A stuff but he threw well enough,” Ellis said. “I think that he just kind of ran out of gas there at the end. His pitch count was right around 100. Ellis then came in there and got us six outs and that’s what we needed. Now, we’re playing for a championship tomorrow.”
Oak Glen was making its first ever trip to the state tournament. The Golden Bears upset Fairmont to reach the state tourney. It was Oak Glen’s first trip to state in 52 years.
Despite Oak Glen’s late rally, Coach Ellis said he still felt pretty good.
“We still felt OK because we still had our number one pitcher in our back pocket in Trey Dalton to bring in if we needed,” Ellis said. “But you have to give those kids from Oak Glen some credit. They battled their butts off. Their coach does a really good job with them. We’re just tickled to death to be playing tomorrow.”
Ellis said he’s also proud of his team. The Tigers will be looking for their fourth overall state baseball crown.
“We’ve got upperclassmen who has been through this before,” he said. “When it was time to step up and make the plays they did it.”
Regardless of what happens on Saturday, Chapmanville indeed took an extra step just to reach the championship game.
“It’s a great feeling,” Ellis said. “When you get into the state championship game anything can happen. We don’t really care who we play. We’re just glad that we are there. We’re fortunate that we have our ace going tomorrow so we’re ready to go get it.”
Thompson said he was getting tired in the sixth inning.
“I had good five innings,” Thompson said. “I was getting tired in the sixth but I was ready to stay in. Oak Glen scored some runs and they are not a bad team. They rallied and got some runs going.”
Ellis said it was time to take Thompson out when he labored in the sixth.
“He was tired and it was hot today,” Ellis said. “With this format it makes it tough on the pitchers when you go eight or nine days between games because you don’t want to overdue it at practice and have them get too much work in, especially out here in the sunshine and the heat like this when you are mostly playing evening games during the season. That makes it tough. We didn’t overlook them. When you get here everyone is good. We’re just happy to be playing tomorrow.”
Jacob Dingess, Chris Bailey and Alex Berry had two hits each for the Tigers. Dingess was 2-for-5, while Bailey went 2-for-4 and Berry was 2-for-4 with one RBI. Both of Bailey’s hits were doubles.
Thompson was 1-for-4 with two RBI. Switch-hitting DH Noah Dingess, battling shoulder issues, was 1-for-3 with a single, while second baseman Josh Browning was 1-for-4 with a double and Austin Ellis had one RBI.
Chapmanville jumped on top of Oak Glen, plating three runs in the top of the first inning.
Jacob Dingess led off with an infield single and scored on Thompson’s RBI single to make it 1-0. Berry later had an RBI single to up the margin to 2-0. Then it was Berry who scored on an Oak Glen error as CRHS led 3-0.
In the third, Bailey hit a deep double off the left field wall to lead off the inning. His courtesy runner, Andy Bias, then scored on a wild pitch from Porter to up the margin to 4-0.
Chapmanville made it 5-0 in the fifth as Bailey doubled and scored on an RBI single up the middle by Noah Dingess.
The Tigers added three more runs in the sixth and sent nine batters to plate.
An RBI groundout to second off the bat of Thompson made it 6-0. Ellis was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to increase the lead to 7-0. Another error then scored yet another CRHS run as the Tigers led 8-0.