Wyoming East wins sectional
by John Conley
Wyoming East battled its way into the winners circle.
The Warriors tied Bluefield with a run in the seventh, then scored four in the ninth on the way to an 8-4 victory in the Region 3, Section 4 championship game at Bradshaw on Thursday evening.
East (25-5) had to win four straight games after being upset in the first game of the sectional last Monday.
It was the fifth straight sectional title for the Warriors, who visit Liberty on Monday in the Region 3 semis.
WEHS took an early 3-0 lead.
The Warriors scored twice in the first. Jarrett Caldwell singled and later scored on a Bluefield error. Zach Whitten reached on a walk, stole second, moved to third on a fielder’s choice and came home when Austin Canada singled.
East made it 3-0 when Derek Thornton smacked a ground rule double to left and later scored when Christian Hedinger punched a single up the middle.
Trevor Martin’s two-run single highlighted a four-run Beavers fourth.
“I was getting the ball up (in the strike zone),” commented East pitcher Travis McKinney. “Anyone can hit if you leave it up, and Bluefield is a great hitting team.”
The Warriors left runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth and were two outs from defeat when they finally broke through against Beavers reliever Donnie Lee Robbins.
Canada connected for an infield single. Hedinger ripped a double to center, and an error allowed Canada to come in with the tieing run.
Robbins singled with one out in the Bluefield seventh. But McKinney retired the next batter, and Whitten threw Robbins out as he tried to steal second.
Mullins doubled with two out in the Beavers eighth. Jordan Hargrave was walked intentionally, and McKinney fanned R.J. Bourne to end the threat.
East loaded the bases with none out in the ninth.
Derek Laxton grounded the ball to third, and an error allowed the go-ahead to cross the plate. Josh Zeboskey singled to drive in another run.
Caldwell’s sacrifice fly to right made it 7-4. McKinney slid the ball left of the mound for an infield single to score yet another run.
McKinney kept Bluefield off the board for the last five innings.
“Travis pitched with a lot of heart,” said WEHS coach Ron Mayhew.
“I was bending over and keeping the ball low,” said McKinney, who was unbeaten as a pitcher against the Beavers in his high school career.
The senior wants the ball in his hands in pressure situations. “I want to be on the bump,” he remarked.
Canada was 5-5 for the Warriors, and Hedinger had four hits.
Mullins and Andrew Siegel had two hits each for the Beavers (16-11).
Game notes: The 25-win total is a school record for East … The WEHS-Liberty victor will take on Shady Spring or James Monroe in the regional finals.
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