Frankfort claims sectional baseball championship

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
The Frankfort Falcons pose with their sectional championship plaque after defeating Berkeley Springs 1-0.

SHORT GAP - In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ben Nestor hit a pop fly to left field and reached first base on an error. Nestor then stole second base with Tyler White up to bad. Facing a full count, White then singled on a hard-hit ball to left field. Nestor scored from second on the play.

That lone run would be all Frankfort would need to top Berkeley Springs 1-0 and claim the sectional baseball championship with an unblemished, 3-0, post-season record thus far. The Falcons topped Berkeley Springs 8-2 in the opening round of sectional play, then bested Grafton 10-0 in game two, and then finally, Berkeley Springs 1-0.

“We scored more runs than the other team, and the last time I checked, that’s all that matters, so, we’ll take it,” Frankfort coach Matt Miller said with a smile.

Frankfort's Peyton Clark led the Falcons offensively with two hits, including a triple.

One run was all that was needed because Frankfort’s senior ace Brady Whitacre was in full control on the mound. Whitacre went the full seven innings, striking out seven, walking only three, giving up zero runs on only two hits.

Those hits, both singles, came one each in the second and third innings.

“Brady has been excellent for us, he shut them down all day long. It was a little ugly in the third inning, but he battled down, and got the strikeout to end the inning. He kept the pitch count down all day, Miller stated.

According to Miller, “Even in that third inning, he kept the pitch count low and was struggling a little bit. He got that big strikeout, and with the intensity he showed after that you could tell he was locked in.”

The importance of Whitacre being able to keep his pitch count low cannot be discounted.

“The big thing about that five-pitch inning not only was to lock-in, but it made sure he could finish all seven. Because, if that inning would have went 10 or 15 pitches, you never know where his pitch count might end up. That kept him in for the seventh inning, which was huge for us,” Miller explained.

Whitacre, with a strong supporting cast, has proven his leadership abilities game in and game out, be it on the mound or at the plate.

“As I said earlier, he is the leader of the group, they follow, and we play really well behind him. His intensity sparks us. We play great defense behind him and we did enough, we scored one run, but how many balls did we hit right at them?” Miller asked.

“That’s the beauty of baseball. You can be 15 runs better than a team on Monday and on Tuesday, be one run better or worse. It’s good to get the win though,” Miller explained.

Berkeley Springs had their own ace on the mound for the full six innings, senior Carson Stotler. Stotler struck out three, walked two, and gave up one run on four hits. Frankfort’s Matt Miller was quick to praise Stotler and the entire Indian’s squad for a solid, inspired effort.

“Carson Stotler put up an amazing effort tonight. He’s a senior, and, he didn’t want to go home. You could tell he didn’t want to go home. Hats off to those guys, they played great defense behind him. With the exception of a couple outfield issues, their infield played really good today, and he just battled, he battled all day long,” Miller explained.

According to Miller, “Hats off to everybody on that team. They struggled a little bit at the plate, but that’s baseball. I can’t say enough about the pitcher today, he did an excellent job.”

In the loss, Chance Swink and Tyler Barney singled to lead Berkeley Springs offensively.

In the win, Frankfort was led offensively by Peyton Clark with two hits, including a triple and a single. Tyler White singled and added an RBI. Jansen Moreland singled. Ben Nestor scored the Falcons’ lone run.

This marks the third consecutive sectional championship for Frankfort, with the Falcons winning in 2018, 2019, there was no season in 2020, and now 2021.  In both 2018 and 2019, Frankfort would go on to claim the regional championship and advance to the state tournament.