Patriots bested by Hurricane in regionals

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Parkersburg South catcher Nick Yoho, right, tags out Hurricane’s Joel Gardner (15) attempting to score during Tuesday’s Class AAA, Region IV tournament game at Hank Greenburg Field. The defending state champ Redskins won, 5-1.

PARKERSBURG — A two-out, three-run top of the fourth gave Joel Gardner all the support he needed here Tuesday evening at Hank Greenburg Field in the Class AAA, Region IV tournament.

The Hurricane sophomore right-hander had 11 strikeouts in a complete game three-hitter to help lift the Redskins past Parkersburg South, 5-1, and punch the defending state champions’ ticket back to Appalachian Power Park.

A day after Coastal Carolina-bound lefty Jonathan Blackwell tossed a three-hit shutout with 11 punchouts against PSHS in the opener of the best-of-three regional, Caldwell was on his game most of the evening.

Parkersburg South (20-13) got its lone tally in the third when Nathan Currey walked, stole second, went to third on an errant Gardner pickoff attempt and crossed to make it a 2-1 game on Nick Yoho’s sacrifice fly.

After Currey got on, Gardner retired eight straight before Currey reached on an error in the fifth. Losing pitcher Colin Bryant followed with a single to center, but the Patriots couldn’t score.

Blake McMullen had a one-out single in the sixth and Jared Clemente had a two-out infield single, but Gardner got Chase Dunbar to ground out.

In the last of the seventh, Parkersburg South loaded the bases thanks to a Dustin Corley base on balls, Currey getting nicked in the helmet and Blake McMullen reaching on an error. However, Grant Hussey popped out to third baseman Tyler Cox to end it.

“He’s thrown well all year for us,” said HHS skipper Brian Sutphin, whose club will carry a 31-4 record into the state tournament. “We’ve had a lot of confidence in him. He’s kind of been a guy who has gotten better as the year went on.

“He won game one and the last game in the sectional. A lot of guys counted us out (getting back to state) because we graduated 10 seniors, but these guys work well together.”

Bryant, who allowed five hits, four earned and had a quartet of walks with two strikeouts, plunked Cox to open the game. After he walked Quarrier Phillips, Austin Dearing followed with a run-scoring single to left. An outfield throwing error allowed Phillips to score on the play.

The Patriot lefty had a 1-2-3 second and started an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play in the third, but things went awry in the top of the fourth.

Gardner walked, stole second and moved to third following a one-out passed ball. The pitcher, though, was gunned down at the plate when J.T. Cooper hit a grounder to McMullen and the shortstop fired home where Yoho applied the tag. Cooper proceeded to steal second and after Cole Bumgarner walked, Brenden Lewis had an RBI single to right. A second run scored on a Patriot throwing error and Matt Vance’s RBI knock made it 5-1.

“We lost to a pretty good team right there, a very good team,” said Patriot boss Todd Burner. “We competed and we got behind 2-1 and we made a couple errors right there, uncharacteristic of us, but you can’t do that against a good team.

“It comes back to bite you. Colin threw a good game. We put up 20 wins and I thought we had a nice season.”