Senior League

Squeezed out... Princeton catcher Bryan Staten readies a throw to third base in the fourth inning on Saturday as Jacob Wolfe, right, is forced out.

GARDNER — Despite coming back from an 8-1 deficit to tie the game, the Princeton All-Stars fell short when Cody James singled to score Joel Roberts in the eighth inning to give the Gilmer County All-Stars a 9-8 extra-inning win on the first day of the West Virginia Senior League state tournament at Gardner Fields on Saturday.

“We hung in there. We battled,” said Gilmer County manager Doug Cottrell. “That team didn’t quit. We had Princeton down 8-1 and they battled back.

“I give my kids credit. We’ve got a young group of kids here that didn’t get their heads down, hung in there, and got the victory.”

“We played competitively,” said Princeton manager Barry Karnes. “We got down 8-1 and came back and tied it up. We had our chances to win, we just didn’t come through at the right time.”

Gilmer County jumped out to a big lead by scoring eight runs in the first four innings. The most important of these was their five-run third inning that saw them bat around.

Jacob Wolfe hit his first home run of the tournament, a one-out solo shot to left centerfield, to lead off the inning. Wolfe finished the game 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Will Ratcliff added a two-RBI single and an error brought home the other two runs.

“That was big for this team,” Cottrill said. “We’ve played a lot of games this year when it was the opposite and we’d get our heads down. And today, one of the things we wanted to focus on was jump on ’em early.”

Wolfe’s was actually the second home run Gilmer County hit Saturday. In the first inning, Stephen Carter took a two-out pitch to left centerfield for his first homer of the tournament. Carter’s solo home run was the beginning of a 2-for-4 afternoon that included three runs, an RBI, and the win when he hurled the final two innings without giving up a hit.

“He set the tone in the first inning when he hit the solo home run,” Cottrill said. “He caught a heck of a game. He had two or three other clutch hits and came in and pitched two strong innings. You can’t ask for a better performance out of a kid that spent six innings behind the plate.”

Princeton launched their comeback in the bottom of the fourth keyed by an RBI double by Jody Bailey and a two-RBI single by Garrison Shay.

“We got our bats going in the third or fourth inning and we’ve just got to keep hitting the ball,” Karnes said.

Princeton added two more runs in the fifth inning. Bryan Staten hit a solo home run to left centerfield, a knock that capped a 2-for-4 day with two runs and an RBI. Colt Karnes scored the other run thanks to a fielding error.

Princeton then leveled the game in the sixth inning when Jeremy McCormick hit his first home run of the tournament. McCormick’s two-out solo effort to left centerfield was the last pitch thrown by Gilmer County starter Devin Cottrill.

Devin Cottrill started strong, but faded as his pitch count rose. In 5 2-3 innings, he threw 98 pitches and allowed eight runs on six hits.

As Cottrill was cooling off, Shay was heating up for Princeton. After taking the mound in the fourth inning, Shay threw four-hit ball for the next 3 2-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two in 46 pitches.

“Garrison came in and shut ’em down,” Karnes said. “He did what he’s supposed to do on the mound and we just didn’t back him up.”

Unfortunately, Shay also gave up the winning run in the top of the eighth when Roberts singled to lead off the inning. Shay was replaced by Bailey two batters later, but James came up and knocked in the winning run.

Gilmer County will play Mountain State today at 3 p.m. Cottrill’s team now has a leg up knowing they already have a win in the bag.

“This is key for us to advance to the next round of play down here,” Doug Cottrill said. “We had to get a victory today and we beat a good hitting team that didn’t quit. We’re very fortunate.”

Princeton will play Hedgesville today at 8 p.m. Karnes knows what his team will have to do to have any realistic chance of advancing.

“We’ll have to win our next two ball games to have a chance at playing on Tuesday,” Karnes said. Karnes also said that for Princeton to do that they will have to do, “What we have been all year, just hit the ball and play good defense.”

In the first game Saturday afternoon, Martinsburg defeated Sophia 8-5 in eight innings.

— Contact Jed Lockett


At Gardner Fields

Gilmer County.....105 200 01 — 9 14 5

Princeton.............000 000 00 — 8 6 7

Devin Cottrill, Jacob Wolfe (6), Stephen Carter (7) and Stephen Carter, Devin Cottrill (7). Cameron Mallory, Garrison Shay (4), Jody Bailey (8) and Bryan Staten.

W — Stephen Carter; L — Garrison Shay. HR — Gilmer County: Stephen Carter (1) 1st, 2 out, 0 on, Jacob Wolfe (1) 3rd, 1 out, 0 on; Princeton: Bryan Staten (1) 5th, 1 out, 0 on, Jeremy McCormick (1) 6th, 2 out, 0 on.

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