It’s safe to say that Addison Wood has adjusted well to his new surroundings in Princeton.
That was bad news for the Capital Cougars.
Wood had a home run and double, drove in four runs, scored twice and even earned the win on the mound, as the Tigers defeated the Cougars 5-4 on Saturday at Hunnicutt Field.
A transfer from Tazewell, Wood allowed just three hits and struck out seven in six innings, while also clubbing a two-run home run in the fourth, adding a two-run double in the sixth and later scored what turned out to be the winning run on a wild pitch.
“It was weird at first, but it always is,” said Wood, whose family moved to Princeton from Tazewell prior to this school year. “You might not know many people except for a few, but they warmed up to me really quick.
“The people there are great, but we needed to move.”
Wood and Capital’s Seth Roadcap were unhittable early, with neither team collecting a hit or run until the fourth inning of a game that started at 11 a.m.
“Capital’s pitcher did a great job, he was no-hitting us there for 3 or 4 innings,” said Wilburn, who admitted to being a little ‘bored’ early on with little to do from the third base coach’s box. “Finally, as soon as we got around to the top of our lineup we put the bat on the ball and Addison came up big and put a few hits together for us and we were able to go ahead.”
Princeton (4-2) answered a single by Capital’s Jacob Williams in the top of the fourth with a one-out single by Andrew Wilson in the bottom of that frame. Wood followed with a long home run over the scoreboard in left field.
“It was just clicking today,” Wood said. “He was giving me pitches that I needed to hit and I hit them.”
Capital (3-4) pushed across a run in the sixth when Anthony Gavin followed a two-out walk to Roadcap with a double to left field to trim the margin to 2-1.
The Cougars have had their own postseason success in recent years, playing Princeton and Greenbrier East in the regional finals in 2010-11. The largest school in Kanawha County has just 11 players, but Capital head coach Robert Massey sees his squad being similar to the Tigers, who won the state title last year with a senior-dominated squad.
“We are kind of starting to have a little bit of a tradition, and last year we took our lumps,” Massey said. “We started eight sophomores, but they are all back and the exact team that you see here now will be back here next year.
“We are trying to look at the big picture, not now, we are looking at June, we are looking at next year. If our guys can compete, if we can get good defense and good pitching every time out, we have a chance to win ball games and that is the main thing.”
Princeton was able to add much-needed runs in the bottom of the sixth, with Ian Southcott beating out an infield single, moving to second on an error and reaching third on a wild pitch.
Wilson followed with a walk and Wood connected with a pitch from Roadcap and drove it to the fence to plate a pair of runs. He moved to third on a ground ball and scored on a wild pitch for the 5-1 lead.
It turned out the Tigers needed every one of those runs.
“There in the seventh inning, last year we were beating teams by seven or eight runs, this year we are having to dig a little deeper and find wins,” Wilburn said. “We are a talented ball club and we are capable of finding those wins, it just takes a little bit more.
“We just don’t have the firepower we had last year, but we are still a really good team.”
Jordan Bray led off the seventh for Capital with a double, which was followed by a pair of walks and a run scoring on a wild pitch, sending Wilburn to the mound to replace him with Southcott, which made sense to Wood.
“I started missing my spots a little bit and the coaches decided to pull me out,” Wood said. “It turned out to be better for the team. He is a very good pitcher.”
Two more runs scored on a infield grounder by Austin Huff and a sacrifice fly from Justin Palmer, leaving a runner on first with two outs.
“Going into that seventh inning up 5-1, Addison was at roughly about 80-some pitches which I went ahead and gave him the go-ahead to finish the game,” Wilburn said. “He was getting a little tired there, they put a few runners on base there, we walked a batter or two, but Ian was able to come in and we have confidence that he can throw strikes and get the job done.
He did, striking out Roadcap to end the game.
“It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win,” Wilburn said.
Wood led the Tigers at the plate with a home run and double, while Southcott, Wilson and Chris Otey all had singles. What Wilburn would like to see is more production from the rest of the lineup, which went 0-for-10 with a walk in the game.
Perhaps leaving the area and heading for sunny Myrtle Beach, S.C. to focus on baseball by participating in the Mingo Bay Classic next week will help the Tigers improve at the plate.
“We expect that from our 1 through 5 guys to really come up and put the bat on the ball, but what we really need is the bottom of our lineup to spray a hit here or there...” Wilburn said. “It is just still so early with battling the weather and not having bats.
“The kids only have 10 or 15 at-bats so as soon as we can start getting more at-bats we can start getting more hits there at the bottom to generate more runs.”
Hanging proudly from the Hunnicutt Field fence below the scoreboard that Wood’s home run sailed over is a banner celebrating the Tigers’ 2012 state championship.
From what Wood can see, the current team isn’t bad either.
“We do have a lot of potential,” Wood said. “I believe we can go a long ways.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Hunnicutt Field
Capital...............................000 001 3 — 3 3 1
Princeton..........................000 203 x — 5 5 1
Seth Roadcap and Austin Huff. Addison Wood, Ian Southcott (7) and Josh Perry. W—Wood; L—Roadcap; S—Southcott. HR—Wood 4th, 1 on.