Haddox homer seals the deal in Oak Glen’s sectional win over Riders
NEW MANCHESTER – Oak Glen All-Stater Bub Haddox, who was named OVAC Baseball Player of the Year earlier in the day, pitched and batted his Golden Bears to the West Virginia Class AA Region 1, Section 1 championship with a 11-1 six-inning victory over Hancock County rival Weir High Wednesday at the Field of Dreams on the Oak Glen campus.
It was Oak Glen’s second straight baseball sectional victory and with it the Golden Bears earned another trip to the Region 1 semifinal game, which they won in dramatic fashion last year when they hosted the game.
While the Bears, who take a 14-12 record to Ravenswood to play the Red Devils at 6:30 p.m. Monday, went into the bottom of the sixth inning ahead 10-1. Haddox was the first batter to face relief pitcher Michael Curtis.
Haddox took the first pitch for a ball, but he crushed the second Curtis offering and watched it sail over the right center field fence for a walk-off home run.
It was Haddox who slugged a walk-off homer last year over approximately the same spot in right center to give the Golden Bears a 2-1 walk-off 2-1 victory over Ritchie County.
“I was just trying to get on base,” Haddox said. “We just wanted to end it as soon as we could. We were up nine runs and we just wanted to get it over with.
“He threw me a curve ball, but I was real proud of the way everyone played tonight. We really came back after Monday. We showed up today.”
The Red Riders, who finished the season with five wins in 19 games, thumped Oak Glen 10-1 Monday night in the first game of the sectional series, but the Golden Bears came back to down the Riders 14-9 Tuesday forcing the deciding game.
Both Haddox and victorious coach Matt DeVeaney felt that the Golden Bears took Weir High too lightly in the first game.
“I don’t know what was the difference,” said Haddox, who will take his baseball talents to West Liberty next year. “I guess we just took them too lightly. I think it was good for us to have some competition to show we are not invincible. I’m really excited to go down to Ravenswood. They are tough, but we’ll see how tough they are.”
“In retrospect, I think it was better for us to lose that first game,” said DeVeaney, who is in his second season as the Oak Glen mentor. “It made us realize we weren’t perfect and they (Weir High) weren’t going to come out and roll over for us.
“We needed to show up and show that we are the best team. One run in the first game and 25 in the next two. I think we were blessed with the weather that this game didn’t get rained out. It might have been a different game with (Mitch) Viakely in there.”
Viakely pitched the Red Riders to that first game win, but under the WVSSAC pitching rules he was not eligible to pitch again for three days.
That meant the Red Riders had to go with junior William Larch on the mound. Larch, one of Weir High’s leading hitters, had little pitching time during the regular season and lasted only one batter into the second inning.
Oak Glen jumped on him in the first inning for four runs. He walked the first batter he faced in the bottom of the second inning causing coach Jason Angle to replace him. Larch became the losing pitcher giving up five runs on only two hits, but he walked four.
Freshman Michael Mills, who started the game at first base, relieved Larch and didn’t have much success either giving up three second inning runs on four hits and a walk.
Mills had pitched in relief Tuesday and was limited to just three innings so Red Rider coach, Jason Angle called upon Michael Curtis, who had started the Tuesday game. The Golden Bears touched Curtis for two runs in the fifth inning to set up Haddox’s walk-off homer in the sixth.
Haddox and teammate Kyle Woodruff each went 2-for-4 in the game while Jacob Ford was 2-for-2. Haddox finished with three runs batted in and designated hitter, Mike Campbell knocked home two more with a single in the second inning.
“I’m very proud of the effort that my kids have given,” Angle said. “With adversity in their faces, they kept moving forward and kept fighting back. You can’t deny their effort. I’m very proud to say I’m the head coach of this team especially with what they put on this field the last three days.
“I saw a lot of improvement as the season went along in the area of at-bats,” continued Angle, who started four freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors in the game and most of the season. “A lot of the young kids’ bats started to come alive. They hit the ball hard and they worked hard for it. They got a lot of repetitions this year and the older guys pitched in. We had a lot of consistency where in the past we didn’t have a lot of consistency. It was a turning point in a lot of these players careers right before our eyes.
“Bub Haddox is a top notch pitcher. He didn’t have his best outing Monday but we knew he would come back hard today. He threw a great game. He kept us off balance. What can you say, he goes out and hit’s a walkoff homer. That’s a pretty good end to your high school career.”
Haddox mowed down the Weir High batters in the first three innings allowing just one runner to reach base when sophomore third baseman Jake Wypasek was hit by a pitch.
Viakley led off the top of the fourth inning and laced a Haddox pitch to center field for Weir High’s first hit. He stole second and raced home on Larch’s RBI single to center.
Haddox allowed the lone run on four hits while striking out nine and issuing one free pass.