Logan Johnson works the rake while Alex Adkins and Tyler Mullins carry bags of absorbent to dry the field for the LPD baseball tournament championship game in Wise on Friday. (Photo by Ned Jilton II)
WISE — The trophy case at Clintwood High School is chockfull of spoils won on the football field over the years.
After Friday night, however, somebody is going to have to clear space for some baseball hardware.
The Greenwave beat Wise Central 4-2 in the championship game of the final Lonesome Pine District tournament, giving Clintwood its first LPD baseball championship in school history.
After the Greenwave finished in a three-way tie with Central and Union for first in the regular season, Clintwood coach Jerry Stanley was quite a sight as he strolled around Mack Shupe Field with a trophy in each hand.
“Probably not in front (of the football trophies), but we’re going to try to stick them somewhere beside of them,” Stanley said, pondering a reconfiguration of Clintwood’s trophy case.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group of kids. Today was our best ballgame of the year, and I thought Central played a heck of a ballgame.”
Indeed, Friday’s game came down to Clintwood’s ability to come through in the clutch and the Warriors’ inability to manufacture key hits when they needed them most.
With the score tied at 1 in the top of the fifth inning, Gavan Meade, Dalton Dahley and Nate Mullins all came up with run-scoring hits to put Clintwood up 4-1.
Central’s Nate Thompson answered with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, but it was a case of too little, too late for a team that missed several golden opportunities to score early in the contest.
The Warriors stranded runners on second and third in the first inning and left the bases loaded in the second.
“That’s the story of our season. You leave the bases loaded early in the game and don’t get a run home, it’s going to bite you every time,” Central coach Brian Mills said. “(The Greenwave) deserved it. They played a great game. I just felt like it was their night.”
Thompson’s RBI double spelled the end of the night for Clintwood starter Dylan Dahley (5-1), but Tanner Brooks came on and recorded his fourth save of the season. Dylan Dahley helped Brooks get out of the fifth by recording the third out on a dazzling play after moving to shortstop.
In addition to his RBI double in the decisive fifth frame, Dalton Dahley also drove in a run on a single in the top of the first. Alex Adkins had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third that allowed Central to tie it at 1.
Although both teams move on to Region D competition next week, Stanley couldn’t help but get a little bit nostalgic on the night his team captured the final LPD baseball championship.
“The tradition that the LPD has — change comes, and we always feel a sense of loss about such a rich tradition, but things move on,” Stanley said.