RIPLEY, W.Va. — Now that’s going out with a bang.
The Point Pleasant baseball team capped the school’s final Class AA regular season contest in style Saturday afternoon during an 8-3 victory over host Ripley in a non-conference matchup in Jackson County.
The Big Blacks (20-6) doubled up the Vikings (13-17) in the hit column, as the guests mustered a 12-6 overall advantage in the wire-to-wire victory. PPHS also had the only two errors in the contest and left nine on base, while Ripley stranded five runners on the bags.
Point Pleasant — which joins the Class AAA ranks during the fall of the 2012 regular season — jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the top of the third and never looked back, although RHS countered with a run fourth and two more scores in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 4-3 through five complete.
Point, however, added four insurance runs in the top of the sixth — rounding out the 8-3 decision. The win, combined with a Ritchie County loss, also allowed the Big Blacks to finish the regular season as the No. 1 state-ranked team in Class AA.
Levi Russell was the winning pitcher of record after allowing one run, two hits and a walk over four frames while striking out two. Jamin Jones took the loss for Ripley after allowing five earned runs, seven hits and two walks over 3.1 innings of relief while fanning two.
PPHS received a leadoff single from Layne Thompson to start the third, then a pair of groundouts moved Thompson to third with two away in the inning. Jason Stouffer singled home Thompson for a 1-0 edge, then Eric Roberts and Evan Potter followed with singles to load the bases.
Austen Toler cleared the bases with a triple, allowing Point Pleasant a 4-0 cushion through three full frames.
Leading 4-3 headed into the sixth, Roberts delivered a two-RBI single that plated Alex Somerville and Brandon Toler for a 6-3 cushion. Stouffer and Roberts later scored on a two-out single by Austen Toler for the final five-run advantage.
Stouffer and Austen Toler paced Point Pleasant with three hits apiece, while Roberts and Potter added two safeties each. Somerville and Thompson rounded things out with one hit each. Austen Toler drove in five RBIs, while Roberts scored twice in the triumph.
The Big Blacks enter tournament play with four straight wins and 13 victories in their last 15 contests.