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Grafton's season ends; Elkins earns state bid

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

(May 29) LOST CREEK -- For Grafton Thursday night, there were no comeback rallies, no double-digit scoring, and nearly no hits.

In the end, it meant no berth in next week's state tournament in Charleston, as Frankfort claimed the Class AA Region II title with a 4-1 win over the Bearcats.

Grafton, which had scored 30 runs in their prior two contests, never got on track, as Falcons pitchers Tom Cox and Corey Smith held the hot-hitting Bearcats to just two hits and only allowed a runner past second base on two occasions.

"Obviously, it showed that we were a little nervous out there tonight," said Grafton coach Terry Cole. "They really kept us out in front of the plate with their off-speed stuff.

"You have to give their pitchers a lot of credit, though. They got ahead of us all night in the count and that forced us to have to battle back."

Early, the Bearcats looked like they might fight back from a 2-0 deficit.

Jeremy Steenstra scored on a John Comas ground ball that was misplayed by the Frankfort shortstop in the top of the second, but Cox retired the next two Grafton batters to end the threat.

The Falcons added two more runs in the bottom of the third for a 4-1 lead.

From there, Smith entered the contest and began where Cox had left off.

The Frankfort hurler surrendered just one hit and struck out four to earn the win.

What Cox and Smith had earned for Frankfort ( 13-15-1) was a first-round match with Liberty next Wednesday at Watt Powell Park.

"Everyone wrote us off a week ago," said Cole.

"These kids just refused to give up.

"We have nothing to hang our heads about. Our players played as hard as they could and did everything they could."

Steenstra and Sam Gerkin had the only base hits for the Bearcats.

Bryan Gillespie got the loss for Grafton (12-10).

Class AAA

ELKINS 12, Greenbrier East 3: Todd Wiseman went 2-for-5 and Matt Carter struck out eight to lead Elkins to the Region III championship at Beckley.

Elkins (15-13) had been eliminated in the regional tournament for three straight years. A year ago, the Tigers -- with seven seniors -- lost in the first game of the regional tournament.

"If anybody deserves it, it's these kids," said Elkins coach Mike Johnson. "To be honest with you, I didn't think we'd be here."