By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
WARDELL, Va. —
Five days ago the Richlands Blue Tornado defeated the Princeton Tigers to capture the championship of the Coppinger Tournament. Wednesday evening the Tigers exacted a bit of revenge as they clawed past the Tornado 4-1 in a game dominated by the pitchers.
Richlands’ Trent Davis faced the minimum number of batters the first three innings, allowing a second inning walk to Chris Otey, but a double play got him out of the inning. Meanwhile, Princeton’s Addison Wood kept Richlands off the board the first two innings. Ben Brown singled to right for the Tornado’s first hit of the game and Chad Lester was hit by a pitch before the Tigers got a ground out to retire the side.
“We’ve had some great pitching performances all year and we’ve got a lot of confidence in our pitchers every game,” said Princeton head coach Josh Wilburn. “He (Wood) pitched a great game and that is what he’s done all year and we knew that he would do that.”
Richlands took the lead in the second when Jonathan Cochran reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to second on a wild pitch and raced home on Chase Ray’s single to left.
Princeton got its first hit off Davis in the fourth, a one-out single by Andrew Wilson, but he was stranded.
The Tigers forged ahead in the fifth. Josh Perry walked and Will Hickman’s sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Billy Jack Varney and Bryson Allen both walked to load the bases. Wilson lined the ball to left but Lester dropped it and all three baserunners scored.
Ian Southcott got aboard on an error that scored Wilson and Wood then rapped out what appeared to be a triple to right, with Southcott appearing to score. But on appeal, Southcott was called out for not touching second and his run was taken off the board and Wood’s triple became a single.
That would be all the scoring for both teams in the game.
“I thought we played well enough to win the ball game,” said Richlands head coach Adam Davis. “(Trent) Davis did an excellent job. He got to the fifth, had two outs and they loaded the bases on us and the ball was hit to left field. The wind was a little crazy today, it blew the ball around a little bit and our outfielder had a hard time adjusting to it and we didn’t make the play there.
“Princeton is a good ball club. I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They stuck with their game plan. Our kids played hard and sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
Wood allowed only one additional hit the remainder of the game, a single to center by Lester in the bottom of the seventh.
Jonathan Cochran came in to pitch for Richlands and gave up a single and a walk in the sixth and retired the side in order in the seventh.
Wood picked up the complete game win, tossing seven innings, giving up one run on four hits. He struck out two and walked one and hit two batters.
Davis was tagged with the loss. He did not allow an earned run, gave up only two hits, walked five and struck out four. Cochran gave up one hit and walked one.
With sectionals starting next week, Wilburn believes his team has some work to do in order to return to Charleston and defend its state championship.
“We got lucky. That was an error in left field, a ball that ought to have been caught,” Wilburn said. “We’re looking at Greenbrier East in our section, who is a really good baseball team. They’ve got good pitching, they can hit the baseball, they’re good defensively.
“I just feel like the last couple of weeks we’re not playing up to the caliber of baseball we need to be playing at at this point in the year to advance and get back to the state tournament.”
Princeton (14-8) is back on the diamond today at PikeView in a game honoring the late Sam White who coached at both PikeView and Princeton.
Richlands (6-5) returns to Southwest District play today at rival Tazewell.
Princeton........................000 040 0 — 4 3 1
Richlands.......................001 000 0 — 1 4 2
Wood and Perry. Davis, Cochran (6) and Yates