Staten’s bat, arm lead championship tourney run –
Story by Mark Carpenter –
Momentum can be a powerful thing in sports, a team getting hot at the right time. That can certainly be said for Coach Austin Kingsolver and his West Union boys “B” baseball squad. Riding the extremely potent bat of Brycen Staten, the Dragons put it all together in the postseason and by virtue of an 8-7 win over North Adams on July 11, West Union claimed the championship of the Southern Hills Youth League “B” Baseball tournament.
The exploits of Staten would have made any major leaguer envious as the West Union slugger slammed five balls over the left field fence at the Peebles Knothole field in the team’s final three tournament games, none of them cheap shots according to observers. Besides his feats at the plate, Staten was also nearly unhittable on the mound, getting the win in the tourney final after pitching three innings in relief, allowing no hits, and striking out seven. For the season, the right hander pitched 20 1/3 innings and chalked up an astounding 58 strikeouts.
The championship game began with Staten going deep in the top of the first with Zane Kingsolver aboard to give the Dragons an early 2-0 lead. That lead vanished very quickly when North Adams touched up West Union starter Conner Campbell for a five-spot in the bottom of the first, sending nine batters to the plate and getting base hits from Zach Osborne, Jentry Crawford, Anthony Wylie, and Kane Eldridge.
That North Adams advantage was short-lived also, disappearing quickly when the Dragons came to bat in the top of the second and scored four times, with Derrick Pell, Noah Howellett, Steven Runyan, and Logan Applegate all crossing the plate to give West Union a 6-5 lead.
In the top of the third, the Devils went back in front, using a double by Osborne and a triple by Wylie to produce two runs and a 7-6 lead. that was the last gasp of the North Adams offense, however, as the relief work of Staten slammed the door in the final three at-bats for the Devils.
That relief outing gave the Dragons the opportunity to come from behind for a title, which they did when they came to the plate in the top of the fifth inning. Walks to Staten and Alex Pollard along with a two-bagger by Kingsolver produced two runs and gave West Union the 8-7 advantage.
North Adams threatened in the bottom of the fifth when Diesel Whalen and Garrett Bunn drew walks, but Staten struck out the hard-hitting Osborne for the third out to leave both runners stranded.
After West Union went scoreless in the top of the sixth, Staten got the Devils 1-2-3 in the bottom half and the Dragons had claimed their 15th win in 18 outings this summer, this one giving them the opportunity to celebrate a “B League tournament championship, winning over a very tough and talented North Adams squad.