NEW MANCHESTER - It was the Bub Haddox day Tuesday at the Oak Glen Field of Dreams baseball diamond. The junior righthander pitched a five-hitter and won his school's first regional baseball game with a dramatic walk-off home run (his fourth of the season) in the bottom of the eighth inning.
He also doubled and singled and scored both of the Golden Bear runs in the 2-1 extra inning victory over Ritchie County in the Region 1 semifinals.
And while leaning on the push broom that he was using to clean the dugout floor after the game he said: "I don't try to do too much. I just try to help out the other eight guys who are out there with me."
WINNING PITCHER -- Oak Glen's Bub Haddox delivers a pitch during Tuesday's regional baseball game.
Haddox found himself in a pitcher's dual with D.J. Burgess, the Rebels' senior righthander. Burgess, who is being recruited as a pitcher by several West Virginia Conference colleges, gave up eight hits, struck out four and walked one.
"'Bub' is a heck of a ballplayer," said first-year Golden Bear coach Mat DeVeaney, whose junior walked two and struck out seven. "I was glad he was leading off there in the bottom of the eighth because they intentionally walked him earlier. He did what he needed to do. He took it on his own and really led the team today."
Haddox was on base all four times he came to the plate - a single in the first inning, tripled and scored in the fourth, the intentional walk in the fifth and the home run.
"That's expected of him day-to-day," DeVeaney continued. "He's a heck of a ballplayer and that's what he puts out there every day. It was a good effort by him and everyone else on the team. A very sound effort all the way around.
"There was a lot of energy created by winning like we did and I hope we can feed off of it in the next game."
DeVeaney's club moves on to the host the Region 1 championship game against Fairmont Senior at 5 p.m. Thursday.
The Golden Bears took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning as Haddox tripled to the left center field gap. The next two batters popped out, but senior Tyler Steed ripped a single up the middle that nearly took the glove off of Burgess as he tried to snag the hot shot as Haddox trotted home from third.
The Rebels answered quickly in the top of the fifth, sending seven batters to the plate, but scoring a lone run to tie the game.
Sophomore Rayce Bolin, who started the game as the designated hitter but moved to first base in the fourth inning, reached on an error. Another Oak Glen error with two outs got him to second base and when Seth Cottrill walked, Haddox found himself with the bases loaded.
His mound opponent, Burgess drilled a sharp single to left field that scored Bolin from third, but the other runners moved up just one base when Golden Bear left fielder Alec Swiger quickly got the ball and threw a strike to home plate. Haddox got out of the jam by inducing Andrew Davis to bounce to the shortstop for a fielder's choice.
"I told the kids after the game that the game of baseball is like life - you have your ups and your downs," said Ritchie County coach Dan Vanoy, whose team closed out the year at 19-13. "You have to make good on the times you have opportunities to come in and I think that's where we fell a little bit short today.
"We didn't execute the bunt today. We had the safety squeeze on and we didn't get the runner in from third. Then, there were a couple of times we had a runner at second with no outs and I wanted to move them to third, but we couldn't get the bunts down. Just those little things are important in playoff baseball especially in a game like this against a good team."
One of those times that Vanoy's Rebels got a runner to second with no outs was in the top of the eighth inning. Burgess, who was the only Rebel with two hits, crashed a double off the left field fence, but was left stranded there as Haddox, who threw 120 pitches, reached down to shut the door by striking out Davis, getting Tyler Reed on a popup to the second baseman and fanning Trevor Shepler.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Golden Bears threatened to break the game open. They had the bases loaded when senior catcher Trey Smith cracked a shot to the gap in left center field only to have it caught on a spectacular diving catch by Ritchie County center fielder Seth Cottrill.
It is rare when high school baseball teams successfully appeal a runner leaving a base before an outfielder catches a fly ball. There were two such appeals in the game last night and both appeals - one by each team - were successful.
In the sixth inning, Oak Glen's Alex Wedgewood led off with a double. Tyler Steed followed with a fly ball to right field, but Wedgewood was called out when the Rebels appealed. Then, in the seventh inning, Frye doubled and went to third on a wild pitch. He tagged up on Cottrill's fly ball to left field and appeared to have scored the go-ahead run, but Oak Glen made the successful appeal that he left third base too soon.
"It is unusual to see two of those plays in a game and it may have changed the outcome, but it was exciting in the end, and now we have to move on to the next one," DeVeaney concluded.
Oak Glen 2, Ritchie County 1
Ritchie 000 010 00 - 1 5 4
Oak Glen 000 100 01 - 2 8 3
RITCHIE COUNTY(19-13): Burgess (1BB 4K) and Reed. Burgess S, D, RBI; Frye D; Bolin R; Lipscomb S; Cottrill S, SB.
OAK GLEN (14-9): Haddox (2BB, 7K) and Smith. Haddox S, 3B, HR, RBI, 2R; Wedgewood 2D; Steed S, RBI; Porter S; McLaughlin S.