Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — After advancing to its first district final game since 2008 with a 6-5 win over Eastern Meigs on Monday, Huntington did something it’s never done Wednesday evening.
The Huntsmen, who came into the tournament as a No. 4 seed, won the program’s first-ever district title, beating Whiteoak by a 6-3 final at VA Memorial Stadium.
“It was a hard-fought game and we knew it was going to be,” Huntington coach Ed Yates said. “It’s been that way all year long. I told the guys coming in that this game was no different. To me, it’s all about fundamentals and that’s what we’ve worked really hard on.”
After allowing two runs in the top of the first inning, Huntington (13-14) cut Whiteoak’s lead in half in the bottom half when Weston Roop scored on a wild pitch.
After Roop scored, and held the Wildcats’ offense scoreless in the second, his offense gave him a four-run cushion at the plate.
After Gavin Free reached on error, Dakota Kinzer was hit by a pitch and Coleton Lightle reached base on a dropped third strike to load the bases. With the bags juiced, Roop walked to drive in a run before Devon Carroll came to the plate.
Carroll laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Kinzer and giving Huntington a 3-2 lead. On the same play, the Wildcats (25-5) threw the ball away, allowing Lightle to score, extending the lead to 4-2. That’s when Elijah McCloskey came to the dish and laced a two-run single into right field.
The 6-2 edge stood until the top of the fourth when Traeton Hamilton cut the lead to 6-3 with an RBI double. In the bottom of the fifth, Huntington got the run back when Nate Snyder scored on a sacrifice bunt via Kinzer.
In the bottom of the sixth, McCloskey rounded out the 8-3 final with an RBI single that scored Roop.
McCloskey finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs while Roop went 1-for-2 with two walks, three runs, a stolen base and an RBI. Free tossed 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just two hits and striking out a pair to nail down the victory.
“It’s a huge win. I wanted to do this ever since I was little,” Roop said. “When Elijah caught that last out, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh. We just did this.’ It went as we expected it to. We went out there and worked hard.”
The Huntsmen now advance to a Division IV regional semifinal against Toronto, a 5-1 winner over Strasburg-Franklin, at 5 p.m., May 30 at Lancaster’s Beavers Field.
“We’re definitely going to practice and expecting to make more routine plays,” Roop said. “We’re going to have to work on hitting off-speed pitching and get our arms back together. We just got to help each other out.”