Pats win sectional title behind strong pitching

Washington eclipses 20-win mark for first time

INWOOD – Pitching has been the strong suit for Washington all season, and no more so has that been evident than during Monday night’s sectional championship game at Musselman.

Junior Ryan French surrendered just one hit through 6.1 shutout innings as the Patriots defeated the Applemen, 3-0, to win the sectional baseball title over Musselman and Jefferson.

Washington junior relief pitcher Zac Burch has been a consistent option for the Patriots all season.

Washington junior relief pitcher Zac Burch has been a consistent option for the Patriots all season.

Washington (21-4) will advance to a single-elimination regional semifinal game against Hedgesville scheduled for May 27 in Hedgesville. The winner advances to the regional finals May 29 to face the winner of the Hampshire-Lewis County semifinal matchup, with a berth in the Class AAA state tourna¬ment in Charleston on the line.

The Patriots defeated Hedgesville, 9-1, on April 5 in Charles Town during the only regular season matchup be-tween the schools. The game scheduled for April 29 at Hedgesville was rained out and no make-up game was resched¬uled.

On Monday in Inwood, Washington scored once in the first inning and twice in the sixth, while junior relief pitcher Zac Burch struck out the final two bat¬ters to close the book and give the Pa¬triots their second sectional title in three years.

Earlier during the sectional tourna-ment, Washington mounted a fierce late-game rally to defeat Musselman, 9-8, in the opener, before topping coun¬ty rival Jefferson, 5-2, for the first time in school history in Shenandoah Junc-tion.

Saturday’s victory against the Cou-gars also gave Washington its first 20-win season in program history.

“We have a really good coaching staff


start¬ and super kids,” said Washing¬ton head coach Mark Hash. “It takes all that to do what we’ve been able to do.”

The Patriots have been led all season by talented senior pitch¬er and first baseman Jared Sil¬va, who has signed to play Di¬vision I college baseball at Vir¬ginia Military Institute in Lex¬ington, Va.

With a 6-1 record and a 0.38 earned run average, Silva leads a pitching staff that has combined for an uncanny 0.73 team-ERA with just 16 earned runs allowed through 154 innings. Silva has logged 60 strikeouts through 37 innings pitched, while walking just eight and allowing 13 hits.

Silva pitched a complete-game sectional semifinal vic¬tory over Jefferson, allowing two unearned runs on six hits through seven innings while fanning two and walking one. Silva also helped his own cause at the plate by hitting a three-run homer in the first inning, the first of three hits for Silva on Saturday against the Cougars.

But the pitching staff also has had significant depth, as junior Ryan French (4-1, 0.69 ERA, 30.1 IP), junior Mark McKee (2-2, 2.15 ERA, 29.1 IP), junior Zac Burch (3-0, 0.33 ERA, 21.1 IP), junior Trevor Pansch (2-0, 2.38 ERA, 17.2 IP) and soph¬omore Robert Cross (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 11.1 IP) have combined to offer several quality outings that have largely stymied the competition.

French offered up a gem on Monday night against Mussel¬man.

“Our pitching has been great all year,” Hash said. “That’s our bread and butter.”

But, for the most part, the Pa¬triots haven’t been too shabby at the plate either.

Senior outfielder Bryan Bay¬liss leads the team in hitting with a .433 batting average, while Cross isn’t far behind at .431, including a team-high 25 RBI.

Silva is batting. 408 with 19 RBI and just six strikeouts from 86 plate appearances, while ju¬nior catcher Texas Cobb is hit¬ting .317 and Burch is batting .310.

“These kids have done ev¬erything we’ve asked of them,” Hash said. “They’re great kids and they’re having a great year.”

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