KENOVA -- The Harrison County Americans 13-year-old team is one win away from the state title and a berth in the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament in Zanesville, Ohio after beating the Huntington Southeast team, 7-4.
Harrison County plays in the state title game at 5:30. tonight.
The Americans jumped to a 5-0 lead after the first two innings.
They scored three runs in the first. Rob Hawkins led off with a walk and moved to second on a fielder's choice. Nathaniel Zirkle was hit by a pitch, and Derek Bowen walked to load the bases. Lee Hamric singled to score Hawkins and Zirkle. John Lilly followed with a fielder's choice to knock in Bowen.
In the second, Hawkins started the rally with a two-out single. Josh Romeo followed with another single. Both advanced on a wild pitch, and Zirkle knocked them in with a double.
Huntington SE scored two in the first and two in the fifth to make it 5-4 and knock starter Jesse Amos out of the game. Harrison County coach Dave Sturm brought in Bowen in relief with the bases loaded and no one out.
Bowen responded by striking out two batters and inducing a pop-up to get out of the inning.
"Our pitching helped us out in a crucial situation," Sturm said. "Bowen was the story of the game."
Bowen pitched two innings, and Joel Van Slyke came in to slam the door.
The Americans added two insurance runs in the sixth when Van Slyke walked, stole second and scored on a Hawkins single. Zirkle then walked, and Hawkins scored on a wild pickoff attempt.
The key to the win was the team's ability to stay focused on the road and not let the travel bother it, Sturm said.