Wyatt Adkins was a one-man wrecking crew for Independence.
The Patriots shortstop was 3-3, reached on an error and turned a crucial double play to help his team beat Wyoming East, 7-2, in the Class Region 3 semifinals at New Richmond on Monday night.
Brian Sexton threw a five-hitter and Independence (25-7) scored in every inning except the fifth on the way to Wednesday’s regional final.
“I’ve seen (Adkins) make an out—but not against us,” quipped East coach Ron Mayhew.
“Our plan was to keep him off base,” Mayhew noted. “Our game plan fell apart.”
The Patriots grabbed the momentum early and never let it go.
Adkins doubled a 1-2 pitch to center to lead off the first .
Sexton followed with a single to right to score the runner, making it 1-0.
Mayhew said he felt pretty good when his team got through the inning by yielding just one run.
“They win a lot of games in the first inning,” he stated.
Indy stretched it to 2-0 in the second when Tanner Muovich walked with one out and later crossed the plate when Adkins ripped the ball to left.
East got on the board in the bottom of the inning.
Hunter Simmons drilled a double to left, moved up to third on a Josh Zeboskey grounder and scored on Chase Presley’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Patriots didn’t have a big inning but kept putting up little ones.
They tacked on a third inning run as Andrue Hughart singled, moved up to third on an error and scored on Ryan Brandstetter’s ground out.
Chris Mills walked to open the Patriots fourth and Adkins later doubled him in to make it 4-1.
The visitors added to the lead when Andrew Cox walked with one out in the sixth. A throwing error on a ground ball off the bat of Adkins put runners on first and third.
Sexton’s fly to right scored the runner at third.
East didn’t have a lot of scoring chances. Austin Canada singled and stole second in the third but was left there.
Tristan Toler had a one out single in the fifth and moved up to third on a Patriots error. He got no further.
The Warriors best chance came in the sixth.
Christian Hedinger singled to center, and the fielder misplayed the ball, allowing him to reach third.
David Powers was hit by a pitch, putting runners on the corners.
Simmons punched the ball deep to left to score Hedinger.
It was 5-2 and the Warriors had runners on second and third with none out.
Zeboskey lined the ball hard, but again Adkins was the man of the moment. He snared the line drive, then doubled up the runner at third.
“If the ball goes two inches to the left or two inches to the right,” Mayhew mused.
The Patriots wrapped the game up with two runs in the seventh.
“Independence is a very good team,” he commented. “I think they have a chance to win at state.”
Sexton got the win. Zeboskey went six and a third innings for East. Hedinger and Canada each pitched to one batter in the seventh.
East (26-) loses most of its starting lineup to graduation.
Hedinger and Canada, four year starters and anchors of the infield, leave as the top two in school history in career hits.
“I don’t know how to fill out a lineup card without them,” Mayhew remarked.
“You have a bond when you work together (so long),” he remarked.
Simmons had two hits for East. Canada, Hedinger and Toler had the others for the Warriors.
Adkins had three hits and two RBI for the Patriots. Sexton had a pair of hits and two RBI.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.
Photo: Austin Canada of Wyoming East tags out an Independence runner trying to steal second in Monday’s region 3 semifinal at New Richmond.