By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Princeton Tigers are the defending West Virginia Class AAA state baseball champions.
The Tigers are out to defend their championship and that defense continues tonight as they visit the Greenbrier East Spartans for a game that will determine the Class AAA Region III, Section 2 champion.
The teams split a pair of games last Thursday at Hunnicutt Field and Friday’s game in Fairlea fell victim to the weather.
Greenbrier East (15-9) won the first game of the sectional series 11-0 before Princeton (16-10) bounced back in the nightcap last Thursday to claim a 5-2 win and force a deciding game three.
In game one Greenbrier East rode a seven-run third inning to victory. Ryan Windon tossed a complete game five-inning shutout, allowing only six hits, three of them by Bryson Allen.
In game two the Tigers bounced back as Addison Wood tossed the complete game victory, giving up only four hits. Ian Southcott had two hits for the Tigers.
Princeton has had nearly a week off and head coach Josh Wilburn said it’s a mixed basket.
“It’s tough to take a week off of baseball, it’s such a routine-type of game,” Wilburn said. “But it actually helped us out, allowing us to get much needed practice in, especially with the good weather we’ve had.
“We’ve been able to get on the field and take on-field batting practice and see some live pitching in a controlled setting, give our pitchers some time on the mound and work out a few kinks. The idea of having a week off is scary for a baseball coach, but it was a much needed week for us.”
The time off gave both teams a chance to rest pitchers’ arms and Wilburn knows that East will come back with their ace, Windon. He is not worried, however, as the Tigers are going to counter with their hot pitcher of late, Wood.
“They’ve got their best and we’ve also got our guys and we understand we’ve got to go out and play our best baseball, play a clean game without errors and expect to see their best,” Wilburn said. “We’ve got to swing the bats and play clean baseball.
“We thought about it (pitcher for the game) and Addison Wood has really come on strong toward the end of the year. He’s very consistent in throwing strikes and managing the game well. He has beaten Greenbrier East two times, so we’re going to give him the start and have (Bo) Williams and the rest of our bullpen behind him.”
Wilburn knows that the Spartans’ home field is a tough place to play, but he said the Tigers will not be intimidated.
“It’s tough to go up to Greenbrier and win in any sport, but we’ve done pretty well up there,” Wilburn noted. “I don’t think it phases our kids except for the drive. We’ve won several ball games up there, even important games in our section. We’re looking forward to it and we hope to give it a good shot. It’s very important that we play clean baseball and leave it on the field.”
First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Class AAA Region III semifinals next week.
—Contact Bob Redd