POINT PLEASANT, W.Va — They saved their best for last, but the Big Blacks ultimately started a little too late.
The Point Pleasant baseball team plated five runs with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh, but visiting Hurricane eventually handed the Big Blacks their first loss of the 2016 season Tuesday night following a 7-5 decision in a non-conference contest in Mason County.
Point Pleasant (3-1) produced at least one hit in each of its first four innings at the plate, which resulted in the hosts having five different players get into scoring position during that span.
The Redskins (2-0), however, worked their way out of each of those situations while holding PPHS scoreless through six complete.
HHS also had little trouble making the most of its offensive chances early on as the guests led 5-0 through six full frames, then tacked on two all-important insurance runs in the top half of the seventh for a 7-0 cushion.
The Big Blacks finally found some magic during their final at-bat as the hosts came up three straight singles and a pair of walks before Cody Sockwell drove in two with a single, making it a 7-5 contest with nobody out and the tying run headed to the plate.
HHS brought in Aaron Perry at that point, and the hosts went down in order the rest of the way — allowing Hurricane to escape with a 7-5 victory.
Garrett Litchfield opened the seventh with a leadoff single and advanced to third on a single by Abe Stearns. Justice Chapman followed with a single that allowed Litchfield to score, making it a 7-1 contest.
Stearns, who advanced to third on Chapman’s safety, scored on a passed ball with Jordan Cunningham at the plate. Cunningham eventually walked to put runners at first and second trailing 7-2.
A final passed ball and a walk to Chris Lush loaded the bases for PPHS while also marking the end of a brilliant effort by Hurricane starter Garrett Gress. Beau Adkins entered in relief and faced only two batters, and Point Pleasant made the most of those two at-bats.
Adkins walked Lush to load the bases, then another passed ball allowed Chapman to score while the other runners advanced during a 7-3 contest. Sockwell’s two-RBI single to shallow right plated both Cunningham and Lush for a two-run contest with a runner on first and nobody out.
Perry entered, struck out the first two batters he faced and then induced a pop-up to shortstop to end the threat and the contest.
Hurricane outhit the hosts by an 11-9 overall margin, with both teams committing an error apiece while also stranding six runners each on base.
The Redskins scored a run in the first, then erupted for three runs in the third and added another in the fifth while building their early 5-0 advantage.
Gress was the winning pitcher of record after allowing four earned runs, eight hits and a walk over six-plus innings while fanning five.
Tristan Austin took the loss for Point Pleasant after surrendering four runs (three earned), six hits and a walk over four frames while striking out four.
Matt Richardson also allowed one earned run in two innings of relief for the hosts, while Chapman gave up two earned runs during the top of the seventh.
Sockwell and Stearns paced Point Pleasant with two hits apiece, followed by Lush, Richardson, Litchfield, Chapman and Derek King with a safety each. Sockwell drove in two RBIs and Chapman also knocked in a run.
Chandler Kelly led Hurricane with three hits and two RBIs, while Brawson Martin, Noah Birthisel and Nate Durham each had two safeties.
Durham and Jake Allen also drove in two RBIs apiece, while Martin and Perry each scored twice in the win.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.