Local Sports, Sports, University

McCune’s go-ahead single lifts Hawks to win over Buccaneers in playoff opener

MORGANTOWN — Buckhannon-Upshur landed a pretty good punch, but University had the perfect counter punch as the Hawks topped the Buccaneers 5-3 in the first round of the Region I, Section 2 tournament Monday evening on Shilling Field.

Trailing 2-0 entering the third inning, Buckhannon-Upshur (10-14) took the lead with a three-run rally as Jerin Westfall hit a two-run, bases-loaded single and Wyatt Mason came home on a wild pitch to put BU up 3-2.

UHS (16-13) quickly got two outs in the bottom of the third, but knew that counter punch was coming. Duke Seggie and Brock McDonough both reached on a dropped third strike and a walk, bringing Brance McCune to the plate.

The Hawks’ No. 9 hitter, McCune battled until he had two strikes. Needing to protect the plate, McCune swung at a pitch that was high and outside, but hit it hard enough to get it under the third baseman’s glove and bring both Seggie and McDonough home.

“Get the bat on the ball and hopefully get the runs in,” McCune said of his approach at the plate. “I hit a ball above my head, but it worked.”

Mason McDonald then doubled home McCune to give UHS an insurance run and a 5-3 lead.

“That was a major turning point in the game,” UHS coach Brad Comport said. “I think our approach with two strikes was really good all night just fighting pitches off and battling. We did a really good job fighting that one down the line there and those were both really big runs for us.”

The Buccaneers looked to have an answer in the top of the fourth as they loaded the bases with just one out. That drove UHS starter Riley Anderson out of the game as he traded places with shortstop Brodee Latocha.

Even though he wasn’t on the mound anymore, Anderson still got the chance to clean up his own mess as Latocha’s first pitch was hit on the ground right to Anderson, who stepped on second and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.

“Riley fresh off the mound, first play the ball finds him again and he ends up helping us get out of it anyway,” Comport said. “That was a really good turn and another really huge turning point and a lot of momentum came our way because of that.”

Not only was that Buckhannon-Upshur’s final scoring threat, that was its last baserunner as Latocha closed the game with 2.2 perfect innings and one strikeout.

Anderson got the win with a final line of three runs in 4.1 innings on seven hits with three strikeouts. Anderson only had two career starts on the mound before starting the Hawks’ playoff opener on Monday.

“We tried him a little bit early in the year in a relief role, but due to some injuries, Riley had ended up settling in as a starting pitcher,” Comport said. “He’s had a couple of starts to this point, both were good, but nothing to the magnitude of a sectional game. Just really proud of him and the way that he came in and attacked the zone.”

Mason started for BU and pitched well, allowing five runs in six innings on six hits with three strikeouts. He only walked two batters, but UHS made him pay both times as McDonald walked to lead off the bottom of the first and came home on a single by Latocha. University’s other early run came on an RBI groundout by McDonough that scored Max Cash in the bottom of the second.

With the loss, Buckhannon-Upshur falls into the losers’ bracket and will host Preston in an elimination game today.

University advanced to face No. 1 seed Bridgeport today at 5:30 p.m.

“You always want to get the first win, but we know we have a really tough task (Tuesday),” Comport said. “It’s a great Bridgeport team, we know how good they are and we’re going to have to bring our a-game.”

University 5, Buckhannon-Upshur 3
BU 000 300 0 — 3 7 1 
UHS 110 300 x — 5 6 0
BUCKHANNON (10-14) — McDaniels 4 0 2 0; Jev. Westfall 4 0 0 0; Marple 2 0 1 0; Ja. Westfall 2 1 1 0; Parsons 2 1 2 0; Spratt 3 0 0 0; Mason 2 1 0 0; Jer. Westfall 3 0 1 2; Rive 3 0 0 0. Totals 25 3 7 2.
UNIVERSITY (16-13) — McDonald 2 1 1 1; Latocha 3 0 1 1; Campbell 2 0 0 0; Chaney 3 0 0 0; Anderson 2 0 0 0; Cash 3 1 1 0; Seggie 3 1 2 0; McDonough 2 1 0 1; McCune 3 1 1 2. Totals 23 5 6 5.
2B: UHS (McDonald, Seggie)
WP: Anderson 4.1ip, 3r, 7h, 3bb, 3k
LP: Mason 6ip, 5r, 6h, 2bb, 3k
SV: Latocha 2.2ip, 0r, 0h, 0bb, 1k

Bridgeport 10, Preston 0
BRIDGEPORT — Bridgeport made quick work of Preston in the first round of the Class AAA Region I, Section 2 tournament, 10-0 in five innings on Monday.

A seven-run bottom of the third spelled doom for the Knights, who only managed two hits in the contest.

BHS pitcher Ben Bifano allowed just three baserunners, also issuing a free pass.

Preston will travel to Buckhannon-Upshur for an elimination game while Bridgeport will host University in the winners’ bracket.