East Hardy cherished the role of underdog clawing ahead for a 7-2 lead putting Moorefield on the ropes and as any prize fighter would do, the Yellow Jackets punched back rallying for the 8-7 knockout in Baker during the Hardy County Hardball Classic on Friday.
The Cougars played with a chip on their shoulders feeling it was time to prove they could wrestle on the diamond with No. 4 Moorefield and the crowd was treated to a remarkable show as both teams fought hard for the county bragging rights.
“This game was really a microcosm of the whole week for us,” Moorefield Baseball coach Wade Armentrout commented.
“We started out with a comeback victory at Berkeley Springs, took care of what we needed to at Tucker County and had a really big inning against Pendleton County giving us enough runs to pull out the win. We knew coming here, East Hardy was going to be persistent and they were going to play hard and give their best. [Brett] Tharp is a tremendous athlete, a tremendous player. He brings a whole winning character to a team that he is on and certainly is a challenge to play against. I told our guys it takes a real team effort. Everybody has to do something little to contribute and everybody did. We got some hits when they were critical and we got outs when we needed them.”
The Cougars limited Moorefield in the scoring department early as Brett Tharp was fierce on the mound with seven strikeouts and sparked seven straight runs beginning with a two-run home run taking the lead in the opening frame, then the Yellow Jackets crept back in the game with determination in the sixth inning.
Moorefield started the game with a single by leadoff batter Brent Moran into center field, then Garett Haggerty hit into a fielder’s choice and was later picked off at second base.
Blake Watts and Jake Ours drew walks for the Yellow Jackets, then during a double steal an error was made at third base providing time for Watts to score giving Moorefield a 1-0 edge.
In the bottom of the first inning, Moorefield pitcher Garett Haggerty recorded two quick outs as East Hardy’s Logan Whetzel popped out and Alex Miller grounded out with third baseman Hayden Baldwin fielding both.
East Hardy’s Andrew Tharp reached base on a wild pitch during a dropped third strike, then older brother Brett Tharp smashed a two-run home run for a 2-1 lead and a strikeout ended the frame which was one of five for Haggerty on the night.
Moorefield put two runners on base in the second inning as Matthew Mongold reached on an error and Lane Ours was hit by a pitch, but both were stranded on a strikeout.
Haggerty tossed a strikeout to East Hardy’s Noah Miller before walking Austin Alt, then Seth Smith hit into a double play back to Haggerty with a throw to second base.
In the top of the third inning, the Yellow Jackets loaded the bases and scored one run to tie the game.
After a strikeout by Tharp to Haggerty, Watts drew a walk and Jake Ours popped out to Tharp.
Baldwin and Isaac Van Meter smacked infield singles to juice the bases, then Mongold ripped an RBI single up the middle to knot the game at 2-all and a strikeout to Derek Hoyt nixed another opportunity to score.
East Hardy’s Alex Miller singled with two outs, but a fielder’s choice by Moorefield shortstop Isaac Van Meter ended the inning.
The Yellow Jackets went down in order in the fourth inning on a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
A sacrifice fly by East Hardy’s Noah Miller sent Brett Tharp sliding home to regain the lead 3-2 just barely avoiding the tag by Moorefield catcher Lane Ours receiving a pass from center fielder Jake Ours in the bottom of the fourth inning.
East Hardy landed several punches in the fifth inning to take a 7-2 advantage and the Yellow Jackets climbed off the ropes to deliver the final blow in the sixth inning for the 8-7 win.
Moorefield’s Blake Watts launched the ball into left field and reached second base on an error to begin the fifth inning.
East Hardy pitcher Brett Tharp countered with a strikeout to Jake Ours, then Hayden Baldwin flew out on a diving catch by Christian Dove in center field which provided time for Watts to advance before being stranded on a groundout.
The Cougars played well under pressure with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning as four runs were accumulated.
Moorefield pitcher Garett Haggerty commenced the frame with a strikeout to Seth Smith, then issued a full-count walk to Dove which came under scrutiny and the call stood.
Logan Whetzel executed a sacrifice bunt for the Cougars to move Dove to second base, then Alex Miller singled into center field to place runners on the corners.
East Hardy’s Andrew Tharp notched an RBI single into right field prior to Brett Tharp being intentionally walked to load the bases.
Adam Baker ripped an RBI single into center field and Brett Tharp caused a distraction on a rundown providing an opening for Andrew Tharp to slide home ahead of the ball arriving to Ours at the plate for a 6-2 lead.