Indians fall in Regional Final; Twigg shines in semifinal
Two days after Berkeley Springs defeated Keyser 7-0 in the regional semifinal, their dream of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 1985 ended with a 12-5 loss to Grafton in the Class AA, Region II final, held in Nutter Fort, on Friday, May 25. Despite the disappointing loss, the Indians have much to be proud of. They have come a long way since Trey Barcus took over as head coach last year. With back-to-back winning seasons and two consecutive sectional titles under their belt, Berkeley Springs is letting everyone know that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
"I am extremely proud of this team," Barcus said. "There are so many positives to take from this year. Back-to-back sectional titles, playing for a regional championship in year two and showing steady improvement are just a few of those things. To just flip a switch and turn it around is just unheard of in this state. There is a lot of talent here and I think we are coming."
Michael Twigg pitched brilliantly in the regional semifinal game against Keyser. The left-handed sophomore baffled Keyser in the 7-0 shutout, striking out 18 batters and allowing only one hit.
"Twigg was very effective and that is obvious if you look at the box score," said Barcus. "He got into a couple of jams, but was in control most of the time. And, even when he did get into trouble he was able to pitch his way out of it. He gave us just what we needed. That is the best game I've seen pitched since I've been at Berkeley Springs. Joey (Berens) said he had never caught a game like that before; that's how effective Twigg was. For a sophomore he did a terrific job."
Twigg got all of the support he would need in the third inning. Nate Sirbaugh and J.T. Thomas opened the inning with walks. Mark Carter then went down swinging and Nick Campanelli hit into a force out, before Jake Freels delivered a run-scoring double and Jeremy Michael knocked in a pair of runs with a sharp single up the middle, to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
Berkeley Springs then added three more insurance runs in the fifth and one in the sixth for the 7-0 victory. Matt Griffith, Berens and Sirbaugh each delivered run-scoring singles in the fifth, while Twigg helped his own cause with a RBI-single in the sixth.
Twigg did the rest, including strikeouts with the bases loaded in the fourth and with two on in the sixth, to retire the side and preserve the shutout.
Freels, Michael, Sirbaugh and Griffith led the 11 hit Indian offense with two hits each. Michael had a pair of RBI, while Freels, Sirbaugh, Griffith, Berens and Twigg each adding one.
With Twigg going the distance in the victory over Keyser, Barcus was unable to go to his ace for the regional final, the same scenario the Indians faced in the sectional final. And, once more, Barcus handed the ball to junior Nick Campanelli. Campanelli had handcuffed Frankfort to help the Indians claim the sectional title, but the magic he produced in Ridgely was not repeated in Nutter Fort.
"Campy would be the first to tell you he didn't have his best stuff," Barcus said. "He wasn't as effective as he was in the sectional final, but he had a very good season. This just wasn't his night."
Grafton grabbed the lead in the top of the first, when cleanup hitter Jared Shaw delivered a two-run double off of Campanelli. Berkeley Springs quickly answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Michael hit a double of his own that scored both Mark Carter and J.T. Thomas and then scored on a passed ball. The Tribe then added a single run in the second, when Berens scored an unearned run to give the Tribe a 4-2 lead.
Grafton scored three times in the third inning for a 5-4, before Freels scored on Twigg's single to left in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 5-5.
Sirbaugh, who came in the bottom of the third to relieve Campanelli, allowed single runs in the fourth and sixth innings as Grafton built the lead to 7-5. The score remained the same until the Bearcats struck for five runs in the seventh for the final margin of victory.
"Nate did a very good job on the mound against Grafton," said Barcus. "He kept us in the game. I could tell he was getting a little tired, but with Jacob (Waugh) injured and Twigg unavailable we decided to stay with Nathan. The game was really competitive and we were in it until the seventh. We didn't play our best game and we knew we had to in order to advance."
Campanelli worked the first 2.1 innings allowing five runs on five hits. He walked six and struck out one. Sirbaugh worked 3.2 innings allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits, walking seven (one intentionally) and striking out two. Thomas worked 1.0 innings allowing one run on one hit. He walked one and stuck out one.
Twigg, Thomas and Freels had two hits each, while Michael and Campanelli each had one. Michael had two RBI and Twigg one.
Berkeley Springs, which ended the season with a 16-14 record, loses four seniors (Sirbaugh, Berens, Sean Diehl and Jacob Waugh) but returns 11, including nine lettermen.
"Every year we lose some good players and this year is no different," Barcus said. "However we have a strong nucleus returning. We will need to replace our catcher and find some more pitching. Campy can catch, but I really don't want him doing it if we can find someone else. When you're so close and the season ends, it is always disappointing, but we have come a long way and are looking forward to next year."