WEST PORTSMOUTH — First, there was Mike & Mike.
On Wednesday, for the West Senators, there was Luke & Luke.
That’s because Senator seniors Luke Bradford and Luke Howard combined to pitch West past the visiting Coal Grove Hornets, along with combining for five runs scored and five hits — as the Senators secured a 12-5 victory in a Division III baseball sectional semifinal on the West side.
The eighth-seeded Senators, which raised their record to 15-12, scored two runs apiece in innings one and four to make it 5-1 —after the two teams exchanged a point in the third.
The Hornets had a pair of two-run innings themselves in the fifth and seventh, but all those last two runs did was trim the deficit to the final of 12-5.
West went on a seven-run scoring spree in the sixth, opening up a 12-3 advantage and overcoming twice as many errors (six) as Coal Grove (three) committed.
Six Senators — Bradford, Howard, Caleb Hazelbaker, Jacob Davis, Jacob Tipton and Evan Whitt — all drove in runs in the sixth.
As a result, West chased Hornet starting pitcher Tait Matney, as he worked the first five and 1/3 innings and reached exactly 112 pitches.
Of the Senators’ dozen runs, eight were earned on nine hits and three walks —with Whitt being hit by a Matney pitch.
Meanwhile, Bradford first and Howard second combined for an eight-hitter — in which only two of the Hornets’ five runs were earned.
Bradford pitched the opening 4 1/3, throwing 74 pitches and allowing one earned run on five hits and a pair of walks.
Like Matney, Bradford struck out six —as Howard held the Hornets for the final two and 2/3, and gave up just the two runs in the top of the seventh.
Howard had four strikeouts with 44 total pitches, and did not issue a single free pass.
He was credited with a save.
Offensively, all nine Senator hits were singles — including three by Bradford, two by Howard and once apiece by Hazelbaker, Tipton, Steven Sadler and Rodney Moore.
Hazelbaker had two runs batted in, as Bradford also scored three times and Howard twice.
Davis drew a pair of walks and Whitt one — as Davis, Hazelbaker, Tipton, Moore, Reece Coleman, Cole Windsor and Eli Sayre scored once.
Matney and Conner Harrison, who relived Matney on the mound in the sixth stanza, had two hits apiece to pace Coal Grove —including a double and two runs batted in by Matney.
Xander Keaton, Josh Vanover, Landon Davis and Schyler Shope singled for the Hornets, as Shope had the team’s only other RBI plus a walk.
Keaton crossed for a pair of runs scored —as Matney, Davis and Shope scored once.
Bradford and Howard stranded a total of eight Hornets.
With the win, West will host ninth-seeded Adena on Saturday — for a Division III sectional championship.
The Warriors, with a 6-2 triumph over Alexander, advanced on Wednesday with their own semifinal win.
First pitch is set for noon at West High School.
* * *
Coal Grove 001 020 2 — 5 8 3
Ports. West 201 207 0 —12 9 6
CGHS: Tait Matney 5 1/3 IP, 12R, 8ER, 9H, 0HB, 3BB, 6K, 32BF; Conner Harrison 2/3IP, 0R, 0ER, 0H, 1HB, 0BB, 2K, 3BF
PWHS: Luke Bradford 4 1/3 IP, 3R, 1ER, 5H, 0HB, 2BB, 6K, 21 BF; Luke Howard 2 2/3 IP, 2R, 1ER, 3H, 0HB, 0BB, 4K, 13BF
W —Luke Bradford; L —Tait Matney; S —Luke Howard
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