Everything was set up the way Woodrow Wilson wanted. Riverside just didn’t cooperate.
The Warriors got a strong pitching performance from Chris Buchanan and scored a pair of unearned runs to defeat Woodrow 4-2 for the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 championship Wednesday at Thomas F. Parham Field.
The win completed the Warriors’ comeback through the losers bracket, against the team that put them there. The Flying Eagles defeated Riverside 21-8 last Tuesday en route to getting to the championship round. Riverside, meanwhile, eliminated Greenbrier East, then beat Woodrow on Friday to force a decisive second game.
The game was rained out three times, giving Woodrow ace Hunter Fansler plenty of rest after defeating Greenbrier East last Wednesday. Fansler pitched well and engaged in a duel with Buchanan, who was the losing pitcher in the 13-run loss to the Eagles last week.
Each starter allowed just four hits, forcing the teams to take advantage of rare opportunities. Riverside did that, and Woodrow did not.
“Hunter Fansler pitched a great game, and so did our guy,” Riverside coach John Phalen said. “Hits came at a premium today. We had to get guys on and move them any way we could.”
The teams combined to strand 15 runners on base. Riverside left six in scoring position and Woodrow five.
Riverside went ahead 1-0 in the fourth when Hunter Kozak reached on an error, took second on a sacrifice and scored on a two-out single by Todd Douglas. Woodrow got the run back in the bottom half on Jacob Sheets’ sac fly to score Fansler.
Fansler ran into trouble in the fifth when he walked Blake Wentz, Charlie Pierson and Buchanan to start it off. He was able to force Wentz at the plate after getting Jake Petry to hit a comebacker, and he was ahead of Kozak. But a wild pitch on 0-2 allowed Alex Hess — who ran for Pierson after he was injured stealing second — to score.
Kozak struck out, but Fansler walked Jonathan Gabbard with the bases loaded to drive in Tanner Hammons for a 3-1 Riverside lead.
An RBI single by Fansler drove in Nathan Williams to get the Eagles to within a run in their next at-bat, but the Warriors got a big run in the seventh.
Evan Bondurant, running for Petry, was on second with two out when he stole third. The throw got away, allowing Petry to score for a 4-2 lead.
Douglas relieved Buchanan and pitched a perfect seventh for the save.
The Eagles had chances to turn double plays in both the fourth and fifth innings but went for the sure out at first both times.
“They scored three runs out of those,” Woodrow coach Mark Daniel said. “And we threw it around a little bit. We had people on base and we just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”
Woodrow had runners on second and third with one out in the second thanks to consecutive Riverside errors, but Buchanan got back-to-back strikeouts to wiggle out of it.
Buchanan struck out seven and walked two over six innings.
Fansler had nine strikeouts, including five in a row at one point, but walked five — four in the fifth. He gave up four runs, two of them unearned.
Riverside will visit Section 1 champion St. Albans Monday in Game 1 of the Region 3 championship series. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
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R 000 120 1 — 4 4 3
WW 000 110 0 — 2 4 4
R: Chris Buchanan, Todd Douglas (7) and Jake Petry; WW: Hunter Fansler, Tanner Buchanan (6) and Jacob Lovell. WP: Buchanan. LP: Fansler. R: Blake Wentz 2-3, Charlie Pierson 1-2, Jonathan Gabbard (rbi), Douglas (rbi); WW: Fansler 2-4 (2b, rbi), Noah Rakes 1-4, Hunter Tolliver 1-3.