South stopped in semis

CHARLESTON – If Parkersburg South’s baseball program had been told Hedgesville leadoff hitter Stephen Hite and state player of the year candidate Daniel Heleine would go a combined 0 for 7 in Friday night’s state semifinal at Appalachain Power Park, there’s little doubt the Patriots would’ve figured they’d be playing today for the Class AAA state title.

Although Hite and Heleine were shut down by Patriot losing pitcher Wes Mitchem, Hedgesville took advantage of eight errors and ended Parkersburg South’s season by doubling up skipper Matt Null’s squad, 6-3.

The Eagles, who improved to 28-7 and will play for a state crown for the first time in school history, made four errors of their own. PSHS (26-10) was its own worst enemy and never really figured out right-hander Cody Butts.

“It’s not fun to be on this side, but there’s not 13 other guys I’d rather go to battle with and that’s the way it works,” said Null, who watched Mitchem throw a five-hitter with no walks and six strikeouts while allowing just one earned run.

Butts needed just 90 pitches to finish his complete-game four-hitter. He only recorded two punchouts, but issued just one free pass and that went to Mitchem in the seventh. Butts, who allowed three earned runs, actually tossed no-hit ball for the first three frames and the last three innings as well.

“It’s always nice to get out on top, especially in a venue like this where there is a lot of pressure,” said HHS head man Dirk Webb, whose team got its only two runs-batted-in from Butts.

Mitchem should’ve had a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, but JW Wright reached on an error and scored on another Patriot error before Troy Markley eventually made it 2-0 when he crossed the plate on Butts’ first RBI, a single to right-center.

Parkersburg South had just two baserunners through the first three innings. Jordan Braniff reached on the first of four Hedgesville errors, but was erased when Tyler Berry hit into a double play. Mitchem got on first with one out in the third when Butts threw the ball away on a slow comeback nubber, but the right-hander got Hamilton to pop out and then fanned Clay Walters looking.

Wright singled to start the third and came home on Butts’ run-scoring knock to left. Courtesy runner Cody Hammond, who swiped two bags, made it 4-0 when he scored on a dropped outfield fly ball.

The Patriots, who had 13 seniors receive their diploma before the game at home plate, got the fans excited with a three-run fourth, but that’s all the offense they could muster.

Consecutive singles by Tre Jackson and Braniff got things going. Berry reached on a fielder’s choice and Jackson later scored on a wild pitch. Jacob Wilcox followed with an RBI single to left and then Brad Brubaker crushed a double to left-center to score Berry.

Butts, though, then retired seven straight before Brubaker reached in the seventh on an error. Despite the walk to Mitchem, which brought the tying run to the plate, Butts got Hamilton to fly out and fanned Walters to end it.

The Eagles, who will play Cabell Midland for the state championship around 4 p.m. today, also got a pair of unearned runs off Mitchem in the bottom of the sixth.

“When we play good defense and we pitch well, which was apparent ‘Meech’ pitched a great baseball game, we’re very hard to beat,” Null added. “Offensively, we’re usually a little more dynamic, but their kid did a great job.

“I would like to thank our seniors. We’re proud of what they’ve done. They will all agree that we let the game get out of hand defensively.”