Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

June 13, 2014

Honaker beats William Campbell to advance to finals

RADFORD, Va. — Before the 1A state semifinal game, William Campbell High School wore warm-up shirts with “One More” across the back. But it will be Honaker (25-0) that will be playing one more game. The Tigers advanced to the state championship game with a 5-2 win over William Campbell (14-10) in the semifinals at Radford University Baseball Stadium on Friday morning.

“This is awesome, the best feeling in the world,” Honaker ace Austin Ray said, as he added to his school record with 13 wins. “I’ve never been this far before in baseball. I can’t give my defense enough credit, they had my back all morning making plays.”

Left fielder Avin Parrott made the defensive play of the game, with a diving catch of a Cody Lawhorn drive in the second inning. Centerfielder Jacob Coleman also made a great playing going back on a ball hit by Brandon West in the same inning. The Tiger defense only made one error in the contest and it didn’t factor into the scoring.

The Generals had trouble catching up with Ray’s fastball clocked in the mid 80’s throughout the game. As usual his curveball was also outstanding. Ray also broke the school record for strikeouts in a season, finishing with 10 strikeouts against the Generals, for a total of 142 K’s this season. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

“I didn’t care about the no-hitter,” Ray said. “I just want a state championship.”

Honaker had no runs on four hits going to the sixth inning. The Tigers did hit into some bad luck. They lined into two double plays through the first five innings.

West the Generals ace was outstanding on the mound, but ran into trouble when he started the sixth by walking Josh Miller and Jacob Mitchell.

“West did a good job through six innings,” Generals coach Andy Haga said. “Honaker’s a good team they took advantage of our mistakes and they're playing (Saturday). They got a few hits and that was the difference.”

Derek Gilbert then hit a fly ball to right, that was misplayed when Lawhorn broke in on the ball. It dropped in for a double to score Miller with the first run of the game.

“That wasn’t the best ball I’ve hit,” remarked Gilbert. “I saw him coming in and I said to myself, that’s got a chance to get down. It landed behind him and I just kept going.

“There was a lot of pressure that at-bat, I just wanted to put it in play and see what happened.”

The William Campbell defense played back up the middle and that allowed courtesy runner Matthew Hutchinson to score on a grounder to second by Mackenzie Phillips. West struck out Parrott for the second out of the inning with the Tigers leading 2-0.

Honaker then started some two-out magic by thumping the baseball. Hunter Lester and Ray had back-to-back run scoring triples. Chandler Miller added a RBI single before West was pulled and a fly out ended the inning with the Tigers up 5-0.

“It was just a good day all-around,” Lester said. “In the sixth, we finally got the bats rolling and got A-Ray some runs. If we keep putting the ball in play and keep playing good defense we should be fine.”

The additional runs came in handy. The Generals who had won eight of their last nine games coming in didn’t go down without a fight.

Lawhorn started the seventh with the first hit of the game for William Campbell and Ray then walked Mitch Mason. Ray then induced a 1-6-3 double play to get a quick two outs. But Slade Seals then ripped a long two-run homer well beyond the right field fence. After a single by Zack Fisher the third hit in the inning for the Generals, Daron Townsend grounded back to Ray who tossed it to first to end the game.

“I just can’t say enough about A-Ray,” veteran Tiger mentor Tom Harding said. “He’s done the job and he’s done it all year.

“He just has a knack for getting out of jams. Most of the time, they’re not his doing but he gets out of them unscathed. He probably have got out of it today, if it wasn’t for that homerun. But before the inning, I told him just throw strikes and don’t worry about anything. That’s what he did.”

The Tigers will play Northumberland a 12-6 winner over Auburn, today at 10:00 a.m. in Radford for the state title.

 

At Radford

William Campbell.......000  000  2  —  2   3  0

Honaker.......................000  005  x  —  5  8  1

West, Davis (6) and Mason. Ray and Mitchell.

W—Ray (13-0). L—West. HR—Seals (WC), 7th, one on.

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