Frankfort, East Hardy play for spot in state title games Friday

May 31—CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After region series victories, Frankfort and East Hardy begin state tournament runs in their respective classes Friday at GoMart Ballpark in Charleston.

The Falcons (20-9), seeded second in Class AA, take on No. 3 Herbert Hoover (21-12) this afternoon in the state semifinals.

That contest is slated to begin 50 minutes after the conclusion of No. 1 Winfield (29-5) and No. 4 Independence (20-12) which begins at 10 a.m.

Winfield is the defending champion in the classification, defeating Keyser, 3-0, in the championship game last year.

It's Frankfort's first state tournament appearance since 2019 when the Falcons were runner-up. They've made eight overall, captured the 1988 title and finished second in 1981 and 2001.

East Hardy (23-6) is making its first trip to Charleston since 2012 when it fell in the Class A title game in extra innings to Madonna.

The third-seeded Cougars will square off with No. 2 Charleston Catholic in their semifinal contest, which will begin 50 minutes after the end of No. 1 Williamstown (29-5) and No. 4 Buffalo (23-12-1) at 5 p.m.

It's East Hardy's sixth Class A state tournament appearance. It won the 1987 championship and was the 2006 state runner-up.

While West Virginia uses a double-elimination format during sectional and regional play, the state tournament is single elimination.

No. 2 Frankfort vs. No. 3 Herbert Hoover

Frankfort had to eliminate two of Class AA's top three teams just to get this far.

The Falcons knocked out Keyser (18-5) with a sweep in sectional play, and they defeated Fairmont Senior (22-9) two games to one in a best-of-three regional series.

Keyser was ranked No. 2 in the final WVMetroNews Class AA power rankings, and Fairmont Senior was third. Frankfort was fifth.

Frankfort also had to overcome some adversity in regionals when practice balls were mistakenly mixed in during a seven-run Fairmont Senior inning in the Falcons' 12-7 loss in Game 2 that evened the series.

They bounced back and won the decisive Game 3 3-2 to return to states.

"I'm happy for our kids," Frankfort head coach Matt Miller said. "They worked really hard. They put in a lot of extra hours, weight room time. Happy to get the opportunity to play for a state championship."

Frankfort draws Herbert Hoover, which like the Falcons went 3-0 in the sectional playoffs and was pushed to three games in regionals, defeating Philip Barbour, 8-4 in Game 3.

Herbert Hoover is not a great offensive team with just a .248 batting average and 6.6 runs a game (Frankfort bats .354 and scores 9.3 runs per contest), instead using pitching and defense to get this far.

The Huskies had a team 2.69 ERA and will likely toss sophomore RHP Tristan Harless, who has a 6-2 record and 2.45 ERA in 51 1/3 innings pitched.

"They have a young, talented pitching staff," Miller said. "Tristan Harless has been one of the top players in Class of 2026 since 7th, 8th grade. He's a very good player.

"They play good defense. Like to run. Very fundamental. We're going to have to play a very solid defensive game to get the win. Their hitters are very consistent at top of order. No walks, no free bases. If we limit baserunners we have a good opportunity."

Frankfort likely won't have to worry about free bases with right-hander Lanson Orndorf on the mound.

The sophomore has been Frankfort's ace all season, and he enters with an 8-3 record allowing 15 earned runs on 49 hits in 59 innings for a 1.78 earned-run average. He's struck out 56 and walked on 18.

Orndorf has won five straight starts, the last two complete-game efforts to down Keyser and Fairmont Senior.

"He's pitched a lot of big games in his first two years at Frankfort," Miller said of his ace. "He throws strikes. Gets people out. We think he's our best option to keep guys off base (today)."

He'll be tested by a Herbert Hoover offense led by Harless (.350 average) and Colin Lindsay, who bats .337 and tops the Huskies with 15 extra-base hits. Freshman Riley Johnson is their only other player who bats above .300 (.314).

Frankfort, meanwhile, has eight such players: Cam Lynch (.448), Blake Jacobs (.427), Jacob Nething (.417), Orndorf (.416), Jaxon Hare (.359), Uriah Cutter (.347), Rhett Sensabaugh (.317) and Jesus Perdew (.312).

The Falcons have hit 14 home runs compared to Hoover's six. Jacobs has five big flies, Lynch has four and Nething has three.

Cutter has a team-best 39 runs batted in, and Jacobs has scored a Frankfort-high 48 runs.

"They're ready," Miller said. "We've had a good week of practice. They're focused, they're relaxed. We have a really good opportunity. Herbert Hoover has some talented kids.

"If we are fortunate enough to win, both Independence and Winfield are good programs. It'll be a challenge but kids are up for it."

No. 3 East Hardy vs. No. 2 Charleston Catholic

East Hardy enters the state tournament as one of West Virginia's hottest teams.

The Cougars have won 10 straight and 14 of 15 games, including a clean sweep of South Harrison, 6-1 and 8-0, to capture their first regional title in 12 years.

They'll have their work cut out for them against Charleston Catholic, which returns multiple starters from its 2022 Class A state championship team and is aiming for its fourth title in 12 seasons.

"It's a great opportunity for the kids," East Hardy head coach Tyler Mongold said. "Our school hasn't experienced this in baseball for 12 years. It's a good opportunity for our little community to go down there.

"I'm proud of the boys. They worked all season, and this was our first goal. The second goal was to win the thing. We completed Step 1. Looking forward to Step 2."

East Hardy is likely to start sophomore right-hander Shayne Sisler, who has been a workhorse compiling a 9-1 record and 2.27 ERA in 61 2/3 innings pitched with 64 strikeouts and 22 walks.

"Any time he goes out there, I know he's going to be right around the strike zone," Mongold said of his ace. "That's all you can ask as a coach. In high school baseball, if you're throwing strikes, hitters are going to make mistakes eventually."

He'll have to contend with a Charleston Catholic offense that has nine hitters that bat at least .300: Jonah DiCocco (.506), Gage Tawney (.494), Zaden Ranson (.490), Luke Blaydes (.417), Jeff Reynolds (.370), Connor Jarvis (.369), Xander Allara (.369), Jaxon Kimble (.316) and Vincent Scalzo (.306).

Ranson has team-high 48 RBIs, Blaydes team-best 43 runs scored.

The Irish hit .388 as a team with a .508 on-base percentage.

"They're a quality ball club," Mongold said. "They hit 1-through-9. ... They're kind of like a mirror of us. They field the ball clean. They hit the ball consistently and their pitching staff is pretty solid."

East Hardy has a team .338 average and .451 OBP.

Evan Hamilton (.506), Garret Van Meter (.494), Mason Hamilton (.374) and Brandon Jones (.319) are .300 or better hitters.

Van Meter, a freshman, leads the Cougars with 47 runs batted in, and Evan Hamilton has scored 57 runs. Evan Hamilton has 11 doubles, five triples and two homers to top the squad in extra-base hits.

The Irish have three arms (Blaydes, Jarvis and Allara) that have sub-2.50 ERAs and at least 35 innings pitched, but East Hardy may see DiCocco, who is one the best players in West Virginia despite only throwing 14 innings this year.

Rated as a top 500 player nationally in the Class of 2025 by Perfect Game, the right-hander threw a complete-game two-hit shutout with 12 Ks in Catholic's regional opener, an 8-0 win over James Monroe earlier this month.

Championship Schedule

If Frankfort or East Hardy are able to win their semifinal games Friday, they'll play for championships on Saturday at GoMart Ballpark.

The Class AAA championship is at 10 a.m., with the Class AA final 50 minutes after that game's conclusion and the Class A contest 50 minutes after the Class AA title bout.

Martinsburg (33-4) was the heavy favorite for the Class AAA crown but was eliminated in a shock 17-0 rout by George Washington.

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.