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Sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack of U.S.S. West Virginia is identified and will be buried with honors

A sailor who died when the U.S.S. West Virginia was bombed during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor has been identified and will have his remains buried April 20.

Charles Brown

Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Charles Brown, a native of Arcola, Illinois, will be memorialized in Humboldt Township Cemetery with full military honors. He had been, officially, considered missing until his remains were identified in March, 2021.

Brown was just a week past his 19th birthday when he enlisted in the Navy. He was 22 when he died at Pearl Harbor.

The U.S.S. West Virginia was a 32,600-ton battleship stationed at Pearl Harbor when Japanese air forces launched a surprise assault that wound up prompting the United States entry into World War II.

Sailors in a motor launch rescue a survivor from the water alongside the sunken USS West Virginia (BB-48) during or shortly after the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.

The battleship was hit by two armor-piercing shells converted to bombs and at least seven torpedoes, blowing enormous holes in the port side and disabling the rudder. The battleship sank to the harbor bottom. Most of the crew was evacuated, but 105 were killed in the attack.

Many of those casualties could not be fully recovered or identified.

The Navy has tallied 25 “unresolved casualties” from the ship and 35 “associated Unknowns” buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

The Navy defines Unknowns as remains of U.S. service members who were unable to be identified as a specific individual at the time of their death/recovery. So they were buried in one of the U.S.’s memorial cemeteries in graves marked as “Unknown.”

In recent years, the Navy has been working to identify some of those sailors. That process began with the disinterments of 35 Unknowns associated with the ship between June and October 2017.  As of June 2022, 13 U.S.S. West Virginia identifications had been completed.

The identification process occurs through analysis of any personal effects present, plus isotopic and DNA analyses of bone samples, along with comparisons to the service members’ medical records and DNA reference samples from U.S.S. West Virginia families.

Once a sailor is identified, the Navy Casualty Office notifies whoever has been designated by the family. In the case of the most recent sailor to be identified, Charles Brown, the family has declined to speak with media.

“Most often the notification and identification briefing is emotional, overwhelming and relieving all at the same time for the Families. Most Families cannot believe their loved ones were recovered after so many years, they prayed or hoped to have closure someday,” Capt. Robert McMahon, director of the Navy Casualty Office, said in materials provided to media outlets.

Brown’s job as a an electrician’s mate would have been to use electrical tools, repair electrical equipment and telephone circuits, charge storage batteries, and stand watch on the ship’s main switchboard, main gyro compass and in main control room. They maintained and repaired electrical circuits and electrical equipment.

An article about Brown from the March 6, 1942, Journal Gazette of Mattoon, Ill., noted that he was first reported as dead and then as missing. The newspaper article referred to official Navy communications to his parents, “Mr. and Mrs. Al Brown of this city.”

“Just eight days after the Pearl Harbor assault Mr. and Mrs. Brown were notified that their son was killed. Three days later they were notified he was listed as a survivor but missing. Mr. and Mrs. Brown had no word since the ‘missing’ report until this week.”

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Photo gallery: Chumley’s walk-off homer leads WVU to a sweep of No. 17 UCF, 11-10

GRANVILLE, W.Va. — Photo gallery from West Virginia’s 11-10, 11-inning win over No. 17 UCF.

(Photo gallery by Teran Malone)

Reed Chumley’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning lifted West Virginia to an 11-10 win and a series sweep of No. 17 UCF. The Mountaineers rallied back from deficits of 4-0 and 9-5 to win their seventh consecutive Big 12 Conference game.

Trailing 10-8 in the bottom of the ninth inning, a pair of bases loaded walks drawn by Hedgesville High School graduate Kyle West and Parkersburg South High School graduate Grant Hussey forced in runners to tie the game at 10.

In addition to Chumley’s home run, JJ Wetherholt and West also went deep in the victory. West and Logan Sauve each drove in three runs.

Gavin Van Kempen (6-1) earned the victory in relief for West Virginia. He struck out four batters in 3 2/3 innings of hitless and scoreless work.

WVU (22-13, 11-4 Big 12) remains tied with Oklahoma atop the Big 12 standings at the midway point of the conference schedule. The Mountaineers will host Pittsburgh Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m.

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Families push for IDD waiver fix during rally at state Capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Families for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) waiver in West Virginia say they hope lawmakers will revisit a 10 percent cut to the program that was approved during this year’s regular 60-day session.

A rally was held outside the House of Delegates Chamber Sunday afternoon as lawmakers met for the first day of interim committee meetings.

Kanawha County parent Tracy White, who led Sunday’s rally, is pushing for a state budget fix.

White’s son has been enrolled in the IDD waiver program through the state Department of Human Services (DHS). It provides services to families and caregivers that help to teach, train and support their loved ones so they can reach the highest level of independence possible in their lives.

“Our youngest son is on waiver and if these programs are cut, individuals like my son and a lot of the other families here are going to have to make some tough decisions. Those decisions could be putting them in ISS (Institutional Shareholder Services) settings instead of living in their homes that they’ve done so their entire lives,” White said.

Families can begin applying to the program once a child turns 3; however, advocates said cuts to the program could mean longer wait times for those on the IDD list.

Darla Irvin is bound to a wheelchair. She said the cuts will negatively impact her way of living.

“Without the waiver, I will not be able to live on my own because I can’t have the supports I need to get dressed and to go out into the community or do anything so please don’t cut our lifeline,” Irvin said.

Cabell County parent Christy Black’s 20-year-old daughter Gracie, who has down syndrome, has relied on IDD since she was 5-years-old.

“IDD waiver is a life line. It’s critical for my daughter and it’s critical for my family,” she said. “While we are tired, we will never be too tired to fight for our family members.”

Black said her biggest concern is what will happen after she’s no longer alive and able to care for her daughter.

“The waiver provides services and support along with supports that we put in place that will allow her to stay in our home when we’re gone. The waiver allows her to have supports that she can be a working, tax-paying citizen,” she said.

Jackson County parent Trina Clark echoed those concerns and said she wants to see wage increases for at-home respite care workers.

“The program as a whole needs to be looked at from DHHR’s level of why aren’t services being provided? It’s because the people aren’t there to do the work,” she said. “We need the money to entice people to come and want to do the work.”

Clark has a 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter who each have an unspecified genetic disorder. They have required full care since they were infants.

“They function mentally at about an 18-month-old level. It’s all daily living activities: feeding, diapering, they’re both in wheelchairs and they’re non-verbal, so it’s a lot on a daily basis,” she said.

About $108 million was set to go toward the IDD waiver program, but in the final hours of this year’s regular session, the budget for IDD and other Medicaid programs were cut by 10 percent. The waiver program comes with a three-to-one federal match. It would be an $11 million cut at the state level and a $33 million cut at the federal level.

Del. Michael Hite (R-Berkeley) was among the lawmakers to speak at Sunday’s rally. Del. Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) also spoke. Hite said he was shocked at the cuts and stood up the last day of the session to protect the IDD waiver program.

“You can imagine my surprise when the budget was cut by $11 million,” Hite told the crowd. “I kept asking how could this be?”

Gov. Jim Justice has expressed concerns about the cuts as he plans to call a special session next month to address the issue. The governor referred to it as a “dog’s mess.”

“This is going to be complicated to implement. It’s going to be complicated to figure out. We have absolutely got to fix this. And for us to wait way up in May, if we don’t watch out we’re going to be on deadline in July and then we’re going to be in a real mess,” Justice said in March.

The issue will be discussed during the Joint Standing Committee on Health at 4 p.m. Monday.

Nearly 6,000 people are enrolled in the IDD waiver program and more than 600 are on the waitlist, according to DHS.

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Tucker blasts feds for ‘compounding’ concerns over delayed FAFSA rollout

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker says she continues to have concerns over this year’s FAFSA rollout as the May 1 deadline approaches.

Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker

“It seems weekly, if not more often, that the U.S. Department of Education finds another mistake and there are significant mistakes. They’re not small mistakes,” Tucker told the commission last week.

The state learned that of the U.S. high school students who have applied to a college or university for this upcoming fall semester, 30 percent of the applications are wrong due to the interface between the U.S. Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not working properly.

“It’s not calculating the student aid index correctly so those 30 percent will have to be kicked back and reprocessed, but that reprocessing isn’t going to happen until after May 1,” she said.

Another 16 percent of those applications have user errors from students or parents filling out the forms, which Tucker said is common and is typically an easy fix; however, the vendor of the new system has not created that functionality yet to allow families to make changes.

“They say that they’re going to start rolling out some of those functionalities in a soft launch soon and we’ll see how that goes, but right now of the FAFSA applications that have been submitted, we’re looking at 46 percent being incorrect,” she said.

A total of 6 million FAFSA applications have been filed nationwide as of Friday. Tucker said typically at this time that number is around 17 million.

“We have a big crisis on our hands,” she said.

About 6,400 West Virginia high school seniors have filled out FAFSA applications and about 5,100 have completed those applications as of March 29. That’s a 33.3 percent decline from last year.

Tucker said about 20 percent of this year’s applications are incomplete compared to 6 percent at this time last year.

The state is down by 35 percent of freshman who are applying for the FAFSA.

Tucker said the HEPC has been holding FAFSA workshops and outreach events to spread the word about the new system and encourage more students to apply.

“Our staff has done 160 FAFSA outreach nights or days, which is truly remarkable, but I think we’re going to have to start looking at how to use the institutions as hubs to better outreach to adults because they’re not getting the same support as our high school students are getting,” she said.

Because of FAFSA problems, the HEPC voted in December to extend the application deadlines for the Promise Scholarship and state Higher Education Grant until May 1.

Families who need help filling out the FAFSA are welcome to call the HEPC’s Financial Aid Hotline at (877)-987-7664.

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Back from significant injury, linebacker Trey Lathan looks for more

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trey Lathan had suffered injuries before, though none could compare to what he was feeling while laying on the playing surface of Amon G. Carter Stadium.

It was late in West Virginia’s fifth game of the 2023 season, and throughout September, Lathan, a linebacker, had proven he more than belonged in his second season of college football and first with extensive playing time.

“I looked at my leg. It was dangling over, so I already knew it was over,” Lathan recalls of what amounted to a broken tibia and fibula.

How bad was it?

“It basically snapped in half,” says Lathan, who would undergo surgery that included a rod and four screws being inserted to help repair it.

Sep 30, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers linebacker Trey Lathan (19) is carted off the field with an injury in the fourth quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Less than seven months later, Lathan has returned to football activities and is without restriction as he prepares for the 2024 season.

“It started a couple days after I got back to Morgantown,” Lathan said. “They got me going fast and started walking. Ditched the crutches after three days and they told me the faster I walked normal, the faster I’d be back. I did that and I’m back here now.”

While appearing in four games to preserve his redshirt status as a true freshman in 2022, Lathan was in on six tackles. He knew an expanded role was on the horizon the next year, and had been making the most of the opportunity with 27 tackles, including one for loss, a forced fumble and a pair of passes defensed up until the time of the injury. Perhaps most importantly, Lathan was consistently avoiding mistakes that could lead to him being out of position, and was showing he was plenty capable of starting at this level.

“I was doing well. I felt like I was getting better each week and a lot of things were starting to become more clear once I started playing more and got more snaps,” Lathan said.

Extended time away from football wasn’t what Lathan had in mind, but it did offer a new perspective for the Goulds, Fla., native and a former teammate of WVU tailback CJ Donaldson’s at Gulliver Prep.

“One day I’m going to be done with this and that’s what it felt like for six months,” Lathan said. “It felt like I was done with football and I had to really focus on life and getting things on track.”

It also allowed Lathan to focus more on school and develop ideas of what’s to come when his days on the gridiron are done.

“I want to start a trucking business, so I was looking into that more,” says Lathan, who noted he first took interest in the profession from an economics class in high school and followed it throughout the COVID pandemic when there was a shortage of drivers.

As he gets back up to speed, Lathan likes what he’s seen from the linebacker group and defense as a whole. The unit is out to replace Lee Kpogba, a high-impact linebacker who led the Mountaineers in tackles each of the last two seasons. 

A solid nucleus remains in place however, with the likes of Lathan, Ben Cutter and Caden Biser all having valuable experience and Josiah Trotter having returned from a lower leg injury that cost him his true freshman campaign. Additionally, Ty French is expected to make an impact on the outside, particularly as a pass-rusher, after transferring from Gardner-Webb, where he was one of the more decorated defenders in the history of the FCS program.

“This is the best defense we’ve had since I’ve been here. We have a different type of mentality this year,” Lathan said. “We don’t have to coach guys getting to the ball. Everybody is getting to the ball every play, so I think it’s going to be a lot different.”

Having Lathan around for a full season would certainly be beneficial to a group that likes its depth.

“Anything I want, I can go grab it,” Lathan said. “That’s kind of the mentality I have right now.”

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WVU committee aims to have new president selected by next spring

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University is inching closer to finding their next president.

Patrice Harris

Ad Hoc Governance Committee Chair Dr. Patrice Harris said a Presidential Search Committee, made up of representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups, will be selected through a nomination process. The committee will include the Board of Governors, faculty and staff, students, deans, WVU Athletics, WVU Medicine, WVU Foundation, WVU Alumni Association, regional campuses and at-large members.

It’s expected that over the next three weeks, the Ad Hoc Governance Committee will work with those groups and start on creating a list of nominees. The committee will then make a recommendation to the full Board for endorsement.

“A key priority of this Board and a critical part of the process will be soliciting input from stakeholders,” Harris said. “To that end, we are planning on-campus and statewide listening sessions, virtual and in-person, with key stakeholders. In addition to these listening sessions, there will also be an online survey that will further facilitate input from an even broader audience.”

Gordon Gee

A special Board of Governors meeting is planned for early May to finalize BOG Governance Rule 1.3, which is currently out for public comment. By late May, the committee said they want to complete the RFP and select a presidential search firm to assist in the process.

There are a series of listening sessions also anticipated through the summer. The sessions will inform the search firm and the Presidential Selection Committee throughout the year.

The committee is hoping to have a new WVU president chosen in spring 2025. Current President Gordon Gee’s contract runs through June 30, 2025.

The next regular BOG meeting is scheduled for June 21.

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School board association leader concerned about legislature possibly taking up school discipline issue in special session

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Executive Director of the West Virginia School Board Association Jim Brown is concerned about the elementary school student discipline bill, which could resurface in a special session with state lawmakers late next month.

Jim Brown

SB 614, which was sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chair Amy Grady, made it out of the state Senate in this year’s regular session but couldn’t get over the finish line with delegates in the House.

Brown, who said he doesn’t normally speak at board meetings, made an exception during a state Board of Education meeting  last week. He has his concerns with the bill.

“The urgency of a current issue led me to express my concerns,” Brown told the board.

Gov. Jim Justice is planning on calling lawmakers into special session to deal with a number of issues. Justice said this past week that the special session will likely be in late May. Senate President Craig Blair has been speaking with Justice about getting the school discipline bill on the agenda.

“I’m working on attempting to get it on the call for the special session,” Blair told West Virginia Watch earlier this month. “We’re wanting education to be better across the board. I’m a huge advocate for this.”

Craig Blair

The student discipline bill would give elementary school teachers more authority when dealing with disruptive students in their classroom. Grady’s bill would give teachers the ability to determine if a student’s behavior is too violent, threatening or intimidating or creates an unsafe learning environment in the classroom.

A teacher would determine if the student should be removed from the classroom and placed in a behavioral intervention program provided by the county. If a county doesn’t have access to such a program, the parents of the student would be notified of the situation, the student would be prohibited from riding the bus and, if the student is not picked up by the end of the day, school representatives may notify law enforcement.

Students would then not be permitted to return to school until they complete a risk assessment. The estimated return time for a student going back to school would be 1-3 days. Brown said the turnaround time for a student who’s out of the classroom, issued a risk assessment and trying to return to school takes longer than anticipated.

“From experience, it’s not days but in many cases weeks,” said Brown, a former school teacher and superintendent.

Once a risk assessment is complete, a student would return to school in a provisional basis for 5-10 days. However, Brown said there are not enough mental health services to accommodate a student with behavioral issues.

Sen. Amy Grady (R-Mason)

“If another incident occurs within that time frame, the student is then places in an alternative learning environment for the rest of the semester or school year,” Brown said. “These students would likely be placed on homebound services due to a lack of alternative learning environments and their behavior will go unaddressed.”

Brown said the bill doesn’t take the right approach when dealing with a student’s disruptive behavior. He believes there are underlying issues that are not getting enough attention.

“We must further gather data on the prevalence rate of mental health issues among our youth and address the severity of their crisis,” he said.

Dale Lee

Brown is calling for the establishment of a statewide task force made up of community leaders, educators, mental health professionals, parents and policy makers to tackle mental health challenges present for some students and staff of West Virginia schools.

WVEA President Dale Lee had previously said the bill was not perfect but did contain some good first steps.

“We need to address the violent student. I have no problem with that. There has to be an avenue the teacher can feel safe in the classroom,” he said.

A survey conducted by the WVEA showed that 62% of more than 700 teachers said they are experiencing higher levels of burnout. 35% said they are not at all confident they will continue working in an education career.

Lee agrees with Brown that more needs to be done in the state’s education system when it comes to mental health.

“Let’s really address the mental and emotional well-being of these students and provide a place that we can work on their academics and their behavior,” he said.

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Kanawha County tornado victim shares story

HERNSHAW, W.Va. — An Eastern Kanawha County resident says one most recently confirmed tornado that hit the region caused an 80-foot tree to fall dead-center on his home, wiping that portion of it completely out.

Ernest Meadows lives on a little road called Rings Hollow Road about three miles from Kanawha State Forest in the Hernshaw community. The National Weather Service recently confirmed an EF1 tornado hit there on April 2 with speeds of 100 mph. It was 200 yards wide and traveled about five miles.

Meadows said it also affected a few of his neighbors in the area, as well.

Similar to many other residents’ accounts from the storm, he said it was very loud and like nothing he had ever experienced before after living in the area his entire life.

“We were lucky, I think we got the edge of it, but the storm came down the hallow and as I said, I was standing in the doorway and it was like someone threw a white sheet over my head, and it’s true what they say in the movies, it does truly sound like a freight train,” Meadows told MetroNews.

The NWS said the recent storm was a record-breaking one after storm teams confirmed a total 10 tornadoes that touched down in the state including five in Kanawha County.

Meadows said a wall in his home was the only thing which saved him from being crushed that day.

“I had built a divider wall to separate the kitchen from the other part of the house,” he explained. “That wall, which was L-shaped, was four feet long, six feet wide, and that’s basically what held the tree up off of me.”

Meadows said the tornado lasted only a few minutes there before crossing over a hill and hitting lower Hernshaw where it did a lot more damage.

“There was a camper that was completely demolished, about a 32 foot camper, there was a top that blew off of a house, a porch blew off of a house, the car port they had over top of the camper went about 200 to 300 feet up the hillside,” he said.

Meadows said it also left a plethora of tree damage in its wake. However, Meadows said fortunately, the homes in the lower Hernshaw area did not receive any real major damages besides the top that blew off one of the structures there.

As with everyone impacted by the April 2 storm, Meadows said his focus now turns to making the needed repairs.

“Currently I’m in the process of ripping and tearing the old stuff off, and my son started a GoFund Me account for me, he lives in Logan County, and he started a little GoFund Me page which is going to help out quite a bit,” said Meadows.

He said an American Red Cross representative also stopped by the following day and gave him some funds to buy material for those repairs.

About 140,000 Appalachian Power customers lost electricity from the storm. No deaths were reported.

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Candidates for attorney general report campaign finances

Story by David Beard, The Dominion Post 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two Republicans and two Democrats are vying for their respective party’s nomination in the May 14 primary election to succeed Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

J.B. McCuskey

The Republicans are state Auditor J.B. McCuskey and state Sen. Mike Stuart. The Democrats are Wheeling attorney Teresa Toriseva and South Charleston attorney and former mayor Richie Robb.

Here is a look at their campaign finances from their First Quarter reports covering the period of Jan. 1 through March 31.

McCuskey stood far ahead of Stuart in fundraising and spending. He opened the period with $526,385.85.

Sen. Mike Stuart

He raised another $76,730 from individual contributions and $64,349 at eight fundraisers: four in Charleston, and one each in Morgantown, Bluefield, Daniels and Atlanta, Ga. His campaign account also earned $3,658.32 in interest.

McCuskey spent $65,538.97, leaving an account balance of $605,584.20 heading into the April Primary Report period. His election season totals were $1,042,437.06 raised and $447,673.21 spent.

Stuart opened with $119,850.24 and raised $22,363.41. He also gave his campaign a $16,108.51 loan. He spent $29,825.30 and made a $5,000 repayment on loans to his campaign, leaving a balance of $123,496.86.

Teresa Toriseva

His totals were in $106,737.16 raised, $56,766.78 spent, with $76,214.69 in outstanding loans from himself to his campaign.

Toriseva held a substantial financial edge over Robb. Her account was new at the start of the period. She raised $9,402.74 in individual contributions and gave her campaign $2,162.01 worth of in-kind services.

She spent $11,269.86 leaving her account $1,867.12 in the red.

Richie Robb

Her totals are $11,564.75 raised, counting the in-kind, and $11,269.86 spent. Because of a glitch, her report form inadvertently doubles both of those totals in the year-to-date boxes.

Robb also began with a new account, and raised $2,047.46 — with $1,340.17 of that from himself to his campaign account. He spent $6.01 on web services, leaving a balance of $2,041.45.

His form contains the same error as Toriseva’s — doubling the quarterly totals in the year-to-date boxes.

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Baun sparks Bridgeport in seventh as the Indians defeat GW, 3-2

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Despite being held hitless in the first six innings of their McDonald’s Classic tournament finale against George Washington, Bridgeport found themselves tied at 2 and with a chance for a walk-off victory. That’s exactly what happened for the Indians, but in unique fashion.

Kasen Baun scored on a throwing error to give the Indians a 3-2 win over the Patriots and their second victory of the day in their annual tournament.

Baun led off the bottom of the seventh with a double off the fence in right center field. It would be Bridgeport’s lone base hit of the game. Baun later advanced to third in a wild pitch. With one out, a squeeze bunt attempt failed and Baun was caught midway between third base and home plate. However, Baun was hit in the shoulder with an errant throw and he crossed the plate with the winning run.

“He is swinging the bat well. He was on it earlier today [versus Wheeling Park]. I thought he had some good cuts and I just like his approach at the plate,” said Bridgeport head coach Robert Shields.

Bridgeport scored twice in the first inning. Brody Pierce worked out a bases loaded walk and the next pitch hit Ben Bifano to force in another run. The Indians however would leave eight runners on base in the game.

“I thought we had some plate patience at times. We forced their kid to go deep into counts and I thought we did a good job there. But just putting the ball in play wasn’t very good tonight,” Shields said.

“There’s only so many opportunities you get. And when you get guys in scoring position, you have to execute and do some things. We just haven’t done that very well. That’s not the type of Bridgeport baseball I am accustomed to.”

George Washington cut their deficit in half in the fourth inning with a solo home run from Eli Smith. The No. 9 Patriots (8-7) drew even in the sixth inning when Chuck Kelley scored on a throwing error.

GWHS starting pitcher Ty Nettles struck out six batters in five innings while Bridgeport starting pitcher Blake Butcher fanned ten batters. Pierce struck out three batters in the seventh to earn the win in relief for Bridgeport.

The win over George Washington was the second of the day for the No. 3 Indians (11-2). They defeated Wheeling Park, 4-2 in the tournament opener.

“Earlier today, I thought that was the best ball we have played. It was a very clean ball game. It had good pitching. We hit the ball hard but we hit it right at them.”

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