Cal Bailey had seen the situation probably more than once in his 36-year career, so Tyler Thompson had no problem taking his veteran coach’s advice.
Thompson pitched out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam, and West Virginia State scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Concord 4-3 Friday on the second day of the Mountain East Conference tournament at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
Already at over 100 pitches in a 2-2 game, Thompson gave up back-to-back singles to Bret Blevins and Joey Miller, then hit Ryan Johnston to start the top of the eighth.
The hit batsman was actually a source of controversy — it was originally ruled a swing by the home plate umpire, but was changed following an argument by Concord coach Andrew Wright and a conference by the umpiring crew.
Bailey came out to argue the reversal, then visited Thompson on the mound.
“He said, ‘Are your legs dead?’ and I said, ‘No, but my arm’s a little tired,’” Thompson said. “He said, ‘Throw sliders down and away. That’s all I want you to throw.’”
Thompson obeyed the orders. Six straight sliders, six straight strikes to get two outs.
But Thompson then strayed from the plan, delivering a first pitch fastball to T.J. Broadway.
“I know (Broadway) was looking for a slider. In fact, I was looking for a slider,” Bailey said. “But he called fastball and got him with it.”
Broadway hit a groundball to shortstop Cody Smith, who forced Johnston at second to get Thompson out of the jam.
“Once the game starts, it’s in (the players’) hands,” Bailey said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to give them a shot in the ... hind end with the glory gun to get them a little fired up.”
State looked the part in the bottom of the inning. Andrew Pickering singled to lead it off and scored on a triple to right center by Zachary Cloxton — a transfer from Concord — to go up 3-2.
Cloxton later scored when Eric Craft reached on a fielder’s choice to make it a two-run game.
Bailey turned the game over to closer Joshua Falbo, who gave up an unearned run but converted his 12th save of the season and second in as many games in the tournament.
Thompson, who threw 124 pitches, got the win after striking out a season-high 13 over eight innings. He gave up eight hits and didn’t walk a batter, but hit four.
“Coach always tells me it’s better to hit a batter than walk a batter,” Thompson said. “He always preaches to pitch inside. That’s what I try to do.”
The Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead in the second on a long homer to left by Trenton Porter, his fifth of the year.
Concord tied it in the third on the first of two RBI singles by Johnston. His second made it 2-1 in the fifth, but State responded with Anthony Payne’s two-out single in the bottom half.
Tyler Coyle suffered the loss. He gave up 10 hits, struck out five and walked one over seven plus.
Concord, which lost a playoff game at Epling Stadium for the first time, will take on Shepherd at 11 a.m. today. The loser will be eliminated, while the winner will meet State at 7 p.m.
“I just told our guys you have to have a short memory,” Wright said. “We’ve got to get past this as quickly as we can, because it’s just a good baseball team between two good baseball teams.”
— E-mail: gfauber@
Concord................001 010 001 — 3 9 2
W.Va. State...........010 010 02x — 4 12 1
CU: Tyler Coyle, Tim Leather (8), Chris Baker (8) and Brandon Costa, WVS: Tyler Thompson, Josh Falbo (9) and Anthony Payne. WP — Thompson. LP — Coyle. Hitting — CU: Bret Blevins 3-4 (2 runs, rbi), Joey Miller 2-5, Ryan Johnston 2-2 (2 rbi), T.J. Brockway 2-4, WVS: Cody Smith 2-5 (2b), Eric Craft 1-4 (rbi), Payne 1-3 (rbi), Noah Blackhurts 1-4, Andrew Pickering 1-4, Trenton Porter 2-4 (hr, rbi), Zach Cloxton 2-4 (3b, rbi), Josh Kiser 2-3. Records: CU: 37-15; WVS: 32-16.