CHARLESTON — Wahama’s run to a Class A state title at Appalachian Power Park was derailed by Charleston Catholic and freshman head coach Will Bobinger.
Although skipper Billy Zuspan’s White Falcons had to settle for second place, senior catcher Ethyn Barnitz was named captain of the Class A All-State First Team selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Barnitz, who drew 28 free passes and finished with a .629 on-base percentage, was one of four repeat honorees in the top unit.
“This is definitely a great honor for our team and our program,” admitted coach Zuspan, who saw his backstop beat .391 with seven doubles, a triple, seven homers and 30 runs batted in. “We had a great season, mostly because of Barnitz, but also Aaron Henry and Logan Roach who had great seasons.”
Tyler Consolidated Junior Ty Walton, who became the first Silver Knight to receive Little Kanawha Conference Player of the Year honors, repeated. The left-hander finished 8-2 with a 1.04 earned running average. He had 107 strikeouts in 53 2-3 innings while conceding just 16 hits and a batting average of .088 opponents.
Buffalo junior infielder Caleb Nutter (.500 AVG, 15 2Bs, 29 RBIs) and Sherman senior Josh Jenkins, a utility pick, were the other replay picks. Jenkins not only posted a 9-2 record with a 3.67 ERA to go with 130 strikeouts in 68 2-3 frames, but also hit .537 with six doubles, 10 bombs, 39 RBIs and a Baker’s dozen steals.
Jonah DiCocco was the only freshman to make the first team.
“It was a pleasure to coach him, very focused, a great student of the game.” explained Bobinger, who watched DiCocco put up a full game against Williamstown in the state semifinals.
“We knew whenever he conquered the hill we had a very good chance of winning. We had him offensively in the three or four holes all year and we counted on him being able to put the ball into play with hard contact.”
DiCocco, who was joined by Wahama sophomore Bryce Zuspan as first-team pitcher, posted a 1.81 ERA, was 8-1 and fanned out 123 in 62 innings for the Irish while allowing an opponent’s .140 batting average . Zuspan went 11-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 62 1-3 innings.
Two of the three first-team field picks went to players who made the state tournament — Moorefield senior Karson Reed and Williamstown junior Harbor Haught, who stole 29 pockets, averaging .443 with four doubles and 27 RBIs. The Yellow Jacket Reed had seven doubles, nine stolen bases, 26 RBIs and a .430 average. Midland Trail senior Griffen Boggs, who hit .585 with 1.535 OPS along with 32 RBIs and 17 steals, was the other first team outfielder.
Greater Beckley Christian junior Reece Patterson joined Barnitz at the catcher after batting .435 with 35 steals and 22 RBIs.
Joining Nutter in the infield were Madonna Senior Matt Amaismeier (.485 AVG, 13-0-4, 40 RBIs, 15 SBs), Gilmer County Junior Caden Hall (.507 AVG, 8-3-6, 27 RBIs, 36 SBs) and Williamstown sophomore Maxwell Molessa (.418 AVG, 12-9-1, 17 RBIs, 27 SBs).
The other two first-team utility spots went to a pair of seniors in Man’s Preston Blankenship (two wins, 41 Ks, .458 AVG, two HRs, 45 RBIs) and Greenbrier West’s Chase McClung. The Cavalier went 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA and 39 strikeouts and allowed a .165 batting average against. Along with five doubles, a triple and four roundtrippers, McClung averaged a .476, drove 30 runs and swiped 26 bases.
Younger brother Braydon McClung, a sophomore at Greenbrier West, was elected captain of every state’s second team.
McClung was joined in the infield by Notre Dame’s Gene Hutchinson, Man’s Caleb Blevins and Ritchie County’s Quentin Owens.
Henry of Wahama, Cameron’s Coy Angel and Man’s Bo Thompson were the pitchers on the second team. Ravenswood’s Anthony Anglin and Greenbrier West’s Dale Boone grabbed the catch spots.
A trio of outfielders — White Falcon Roach, Tyler Consolidated’s Jayden Helmick and Sherman’s Cole Whitehead — completed the remainder of the second unit along with Charleston Catholic’s Michael Ferrell, Wheeling Central’s Ben Foster and Sherman’s Holden Allen.