(Story by Daniel Woods)


INWOOD, W.Va- One of the most important things that a coach can give a young athlete is often also one of the hardest for that athlete to earn: trust.


Musselman head baseball coach Josh Hartman put his faith in Kam Woolum on Wednesday night and the freshman pitcher rewarded him with five scoreless innings on the mound to set the tone for a 6-0 Applemen win over Spring Mills.
Facing potential elimination after falling to Hedgesville in the opening round of the Class AAA Region II, Section 1 tournament on Tuesday, Hartman gave the ball to the lefty Woolum who allowed just two hits and struck out five hitters while posting five straight zeros on the scoreboard.
“I’m excited for that kid’s future with us definitely,” Hartman said, “He’s a special player as a freshman and three more years with us, I’m excited for that.”
The Musselman offense came together to support Woolum’s effort by scoring in each of the first four innings while Jason Myers and Colin Aulisio each tossed scoreless frames to finish off the shutout.
After a slow start at the plate in Tuesday’s loss, the Applemen used back to back extra base hits to strike in the bottom of the first, a sight that was certainly welcome to the head coach.
“Any time you get a run starting out, it eases the pressure. It eases the pressure on the pitcher. Any time you’re playing with a lead, you don’t press as much and good things usually happen,” Hartman said.
Wyatt McClintock ripped a one-out triple for the game’s first hit during Musselman’s first trip to the plate and it didn’t take long to get him home with Taryn Boyles cracking a double to left field for the game’s first run.
With Woolum keeping the Cardinals at bay, the Applemen went to work on Spring Mills starter JP Sweeney as Ethan Hinchman and Ryder Ganse reached base on back to back singles in the second. Kyle Lore brought them both home with a two-out hit of his own that made it 3-0 after two.
Musselman took advantage of some control issues from Sweeney in the third with both Boyles and Myers being hit by pitches. Wyatt Levie lined a single into center that scored Boyles and just moments later, Myers raced home on a wild pitch.
The game’s final run came across in the fourth as Ganse reached on an error to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on Izaac Gilbert’s sacrifice bunt. After a Lore single, McClintock sent a double over the head of Spring Mills left fielder Sammy Taylor and Ganse scored to make it a six-run game.
While there may not have been one swing that changed the outlook of the game in an instant, Hartman was pleased to see his team consistently put runners on base and bring them home.
“Any time you can manufacture runs every single inning and you can hold them to zeros is a good night. We had good approaches at the plate all night long. Got to keep bunts down and move runners in situations like that. Kyle came up and had a big hit that scored a couple runs and we just did a good job tonight all through the lineup,” he said.
Cardinal head coach Bradley Barrett lifted Sweeney following the McClintock double and inserted Rylan Swartz who dealt 2.2 scoreless innings of relief but the damage was already done.
Woolum gave way to Myers to start the sixth and he delivered a scoreless frame of his own before Aulisio worked around a pair of one-out base runners in the seventh to guarantee the Applemen at least one more game.
After getting five quality innings from his starter and short, successful outings from both relievers, Hartman maintains a deep group of arms that are ready to throw the rest of the tournament.
“Our arms are ready. We hope we play every single day this week so if we can do that, we’re doing good things,” he said, “I’m going to go with Kai Dunbar tomorrow. He’s done a good job for me all year as well so I’m excited for him and the opportunity.”
Musselman will meet Hedgesville for the second time in the postseason, this time in an elimination game, after the Eagles fell to top seed Martinsburg in a winner’s bracket matchup on Wednesday.
That game is scheduled for 7 pm at Musselman on Thursday and can be heard on the Panhandle News Network.