The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

June 8, 2014

Bridgeport tackles Independence for baseball-football championship sweep

CHARLESTON — From power-I to Power Park, Bridgeport was at it again Saturday.

Logan Smith pitched a 4-hit complete game, the Indians scored three runs in the fourth inning and took home the Class AA baseball state championship with a 5-2 win over Independence, just six short months after claiming the football title.

“From football to baseball, no one works harder than we do,” said sophomore Dante Bonamico, who provided two extra-base hits and several solid defensive plays. “It’s great for these seniors. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

More than five two-sport athletes walked away from the school year with two state championships. Anthony Bonamico, a running back who was captain of the All-State football team, said the experience of playing in a big game paid dividends on the diamond.

“I told all the kids who weren’t on that state championship team how it’s an unbelievable feeling,” he said. “To see the underclassmen with tears in their eyes, it just means so much to this town. We were playing for the name on our chest, not on our back.”

The championship is Bridgeport’s fifth state championship as a school this season. The Indians also won boys’ cross country and both track championships, proving that they have become a powerhouse since dropping from Class AAA to Class AA before the 2012-2013 season.

“This is the exclamation point for Bridgeport High School athletics,” Bridgeport coach Robert Shields said. “This is a hell of a year for 2014.”

With Independence leading 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Bridgeport put together a 3-run inning. Hunter Fain’s RBI double got the Indians on the board.

Then, Anthony Bonamico whiffed on a squeeze bunt, leaving his brother out to dry halfway down the third base line. But Dante bailed his brother out by weaseling his way out of the rundown and diving into home plate — like a running back toward the pylon — to score the game-tying run.

“Anthony blew it and Dante made it happen,” Shields put it frankly. “What can I say? He’s just an athlete that timed it right.”

Fain then scored on a passed ball for what turned out to be the game-winning run.

Bridgeport added an insurance run on an Independence error in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-2, and went up 5-2 in the fifth when A.C. Caldera doubled home Anthony Bonamico.

The victory is Bridgeport’s third baseball title in school history. The Indians also won in 1993 and 2000. How does sophomore Dante Bonamico plan to follow it up?

“Let’s go get two more,” he said, setting his sites on a baseball 3-peat.

Then again, maybe he just meant two more next school year?

CLASS AAA

Hurricane 9, Riverside 2

After Hurricane pitcher Austin Hensley retired the final Riverside batter in the Class AAA state championship game at Appalachian Power Park, his Redskins teammates converged on him, tackling him and piling on top of him.

“They attacked me from all over,” said Hensley.

His counterpart, Brady Wilkinson, knows the feeling.

The Redskins battered Wilkinson’s pitching around the field for 12 hits — five for extra bases — on the way to a 9-2 victory in Charleston.

Justin Crouch and Joseph Rogoszweski led the way with two RBIs apiece. Hensley and Brock Tate also recorded two hits each.

The Hurricane (29-7) offensive outburst was almost unnecessary with the way Hensley pitched. He allowed just three hits and two unearned runs in seven complete innings.

“He’s an animal,” Hurricane coach Brian Sutphin said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a winner.”

The championship has been a long time coming. This was just the Redskins’ second appearance in the tournament. Because of a strong Region IV, their only other trip to Charleston came in the 2002 state championship season.

When Hurricane finally cleared the hurdle, they made the most of their opportunity.

“Finally us,” Hensley said. “Finally we got the chance to be down here. It’s a great feeling.”

Riverside got on the board first in the top of the first with a Cameron Norris RBI single. But Hurricane responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning and never again trailed, plating runs in all but one inning. Each of the Redskins reached base during the rout.

Asked for one or two words to describe his team, coach Sutphin provided way more adjectives.

“Class. Winners. Tough. Unselfish.”

CLASS A

Man 12, Notre Dame 10

The No. 9 batter in the lineup is supposed to be an easy out. Someone forgot to tell Kenny Jo Adkins that.

Batting in the 9-hole, the Man High School left fielder doubled twice and drove in five runs Saturday at Appalachian Power Park to propel the Hillbillies to a 12-10 Class A state championship over Notre Dame in a 10-inning thriller that featured 29 hits and six different pitchers.

With one out in the top of the 10th inning, Adkins put a charge into a ball, driving it to deep right-centerfield to score two game-tying runs and igniting a 5-run inning.

“I wasn’t even looking. I just saw the base runners in front of me running and I ran with them,” said Adkins, who scored what turned out to be the game-winning run on Cam Simpson’s single.

The Man (21-11) sophomore also doubled home two runs in the fourth inning and singled in one more in the top of the fifth to give the Hillbillies a 7-4 lead.

“The first one that he hit in left-center, I said, ‘Is that the furthest ball you ever hit?’” asked Man coach Larry Vance. “Then he comes up the next time and duplicates it to the opposite field.”

The Irish (27-7) forced extra innings in the seventh when pinch hitter Gavin Goff drew a 3-2, bases-loaded walk to push the game-tying run across. Notre Dame thought it had the winning run on a wild pitch, but it took a fortunate bounce right back to the Man catcher who flipped it to pitcher Mikle Scott Rowe for the out at home.

Notre Dame rallied one last time with three runs in the bottom of the 10th. With two on, Jordan Miller came to the plate representing the tying run. But Man right-hander John Keffer induced a pop up to centerfield to close out the game.

“It was a tough one,” Vance said. “You couldn’t relax at all. It took so many emotions up and down. I’m just glad it’s over with.”

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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