CHARLESTON - Celebrating a championship felt so good to Hedgesville, the Eagles had to repeat the feat before they could truly receive their diamond rewards.
Pitcher Derrick Snyder felt like a quarterback being sacked as teammates raced off the bench and tackled him as it appeared a line drive to center field would end Saturday's Class AAA state championship baseball game.
Neither Snyder nor the jackrabbits out of the dugout at Appalachian Power Park had any inkling that the ball had hit off the heel of Troy Markley's glove and fell to the ground, keeping the game alive for Cabell Midland.
The blindsided - literally and figuratively - Snyder promptly induced the next batter into a ground ball, leading to a flip at second for a force play to really end Hedgesville's 4-2 championship game victory.
"I didn't even look at him," Snyder said. "I thought he caught the ball. I got hit pretty hard."
It was the first state baseball championship for the school, which has previously won state crowns in basketball, boys track and volleyball.
"It was just disappointing," Markley said. "I didn't want to let my team down."
The momentary depression soon changed to shear delight.
"This is what I've always wanted," Hedgesville slugger Daniel Heleine said. "This is a great way to end the season."
Hedgesville fell behind by a couple of runs in the first inning as Cabell Midland smacked around Snyder pretty good.
The Eagles, though, after striking out twice in each of the first three innings, finally came around in the fourth inning as they scored all four of their runs.
Catcher Tyler Anders produced a two-run single after Heleine led off with a single and Markley and Cody Butts drew walks. Cameron Jordan's groundout knocked in Butts, and Adam Ruppenthal laced a single for the final run of the rally.
"They got on top," Markley said, "and we came out and played our game the rest of the game."
Charleston Catholic 9, Magnolia 8
Coaching in his eighth state tournament in the last 12 years without a title to speak of, Charleston Catholic head coach Bill Mehle had seen his club lose in nearly every way imaginable in its quest for an elusive state title.
So when his Irish took a 9-2 lead on Magnolia in the top of the sixth inning of Saturday's West Virginia Class A state championship game at Appalachian Power Park, Mehle - with that history as a backdrop - was anything but comfortable.
It turns out, he had plenty of reason as the the Blue Eagles staged a furious rally, pushing the tying run to second and the potential winning run to first, before falling, 9-8, in head coach Dave Cisar's 1,200th career game in his 40th season in New Martinsville.
"Even when we had that seven-run cushion, we knew that was not going to be enough," Mehle said. "If you noticed, when we had seven runs, we still tried to bunt our way across to get another run in. When you get to the postseason, you don't take anything for granted."
Magnolia (31-5) inched a little closer with three in the sixth as Grant Cain and pinch-hitter Yale Wetzel hit back-to-back, one-out singles in front of a loud RBI double to left by Drew Keller. Ryan Walton followed that up with a two-run double before Charleston Catholic pitcher Kiefer Hovorka was able to wiggle off the hook.
"We were telling our kids stay close," said Cisar, whose club committed three errors and issued nine walks to help the Irish build that lead. "Just cut off one leg at a time. There's not many seven, eight-run innings, but there's one run, two runs - keep on pecking away."
Trailing 9-5 entering the bottom of the seventh and already a bit confident because they'd rallied to win in the seventh a day earlier, the Blue Eagles were set to face whatever was left of Mehle's pitching staff as Hovorka, the staff ace, pitched an inning of the semifinal and had run out of innings allowed by the WVSSA in a two-day tournament window prior to the seventh.
Herbert Hoover 7, Fairmont Sr. 5
Corey Bird, Austin Thomas and Cody Bowen had two hits apiece and Herbert Hoover rallied for six runs in the top of the sixth inning to lead the Huskies to a 7-5 victory over Fairmont Senior in the Class AA State Tournament championship game on Saturday at Appalachian Power Park.