Gilmer County pitcher Lance Woodford admittedly wasn't on top of his game Thursday. He didn't have to be. The Titans offense didn't explode for hit after hit like it had earlier in the season; only when it had to.
Woodford pitched a complete game, giving up eight hits and striking out 10, was backed by an offense, which pounded out 13 hits, and a defense, which came up with two key plays late in the game, as Gilmer County advanced to the championship of the Class A Region 2, Section 1 with a 6-3 win over Doddridge County.
The victory comes two days after the death of Gilmer County head coach David Jaffre, who suffered a heart attack in the first inning of Tuesday's regularly scheduled game. The game began at the point where Tuesday's game was postponed.
"This one was important," Gilmer County interim coach Joey Frashure said. "It's important because it puts us in the driver's seat. Doddridge County or Notre Dame are going to come after us hard, but this puts us in the drivers seat."
Gilmer County (28-2) now faces Notre Dame, who defeated Doddridge County, 10-6, in the late game Friday. The Irish will have to defeat Gilmer County twice to advance.
Doddridge County (14-11) trailed 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the third. Shortstop BenJo McKinney then doubled to left center, and catcher David Hoskinson followed with a double off the left field fence to score McKinney and tie the game.
Gilmer County answered in the bottom of the third with two runs to take the lead for good. Andy Williamson doubled and scored on Pat Morrison's single to left. Jonathon Schloeter scored Morrison on a single to right.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the fifth, Woodford got out of a jam with no outs and runners on second and third. Following consecutive fly outs to shallow center, Matt Bartlett ripped a shot up the middle, but second baseman Dan Page made a catch to end the rally.
"Our defense had been solid like that all year," Woodford said. "It's nice going out on the mound knowing you don't have to pitch nearly perfect to win. Everyone out there has confidence in each other."
Gilmer County scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 6-1 lead highlighted by Page's RBI double to deep left center. Doddridge came back with two runs in the sixth, but a double play hurt Doddridge County's chances to inflict more damage.
"We gave them some opportunities, but we didn't capitalize on a lot of ours," Doddridge County coach Dave Mires said. "That's just the way this game goes sometimes. We made a few mistakes, but you can't make any against a team like them. They hit the ball too well up and down their lineup."
Ellyson had three hits to lead Gilmer County, while Jacob Dennison, Morrison, Page and Williamson each added two hits. Chris Gum, McKinney, Hoskinson and Tim Bailey each had two hits for Doddridge County.
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444.