CUMBERLAND — Every Saturday morning they met for breakfast at the Mountain Top Restaurant near the high school along U.S. Route 50.
And later in the day, and all throughout the week, they took care of business on the baseball field, serving up win after win in the most successful season in school history.
The Hampshire Trojans set school records for most wins and best record in a season, won the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference for the first time and came one game shy of the Class AAA state tournament.
They also won the Cumberland Times-News area championship, the first for the Trojans in the 27-year history of the area poll.
The area championship trophy is sponsored by The Sports Shoppe of Cumberland, and will be presented at an early season game next year.
“We had just a great group of kids. They love to be around each other and they love to play baseball,’’ said head coach Chad VanMeter. “They really came together as a team, and meeting for breakfast every Saturday before practice or games was just one of the things we did that brought us together.”
On the field the Trojans were nearly unbeatable. They won their first seven games, a run that included an 8-2 victory over Princeton, the defending Class AAA state champion at the time, during a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
After a 3-0 loss to Greenbriar (Va.) Christian, the Trojans put together an area best and school record 14-game winning streak, not losing again until a 9-8 game to Allegany in the regular-season finale.
After the 21-2 regular season, Hampshire beat Elkins in a three-game series to win their Class AAA sectional and whipped Buckhannon-Upshur 11-1 in the Region 2 semifinals before losing at Hedgesville, 4-3, in the region final.
Hedgesville, which had lost to Hampshire 6-4 early in the season, went on to win the state championship with a 29-7 record.
The Trojans finished with a 25-4 record.
“You don’t get 25 wins too often. The wins and the record are the best in school history, and we went as far as any Hampshire team has ever gone in the playoffs,’’ said VanMeter, a former baseball standout and a 1993 Hampshire graduate.
“The Hedgesville game in the region final was just one of those games. Every ball we hit seemed to be right at them.”
That wasn’t the case very often. The Trojans had eight players, with at least 50 at bats, hit .300 or better. Three hit over .400 and one over .500.
Josh Crawford, a four-year starter like his brother Garrett, hit .519 and was unbeaten as a pitcher with a 7-0 record. He hit 14 doubles and drove in 34 runs at the plate and had a 2.07 ERA in 47 1-3 innings on the mound.
Shane Ennis hit .447 with 10 doubles, 6 homers and 38 RBIs and David Delawder hit .407 with 10 doubles, 41 runs and 17 RBIs.
Other top hitters were Garrett Crawford (.344, 6 doubles, 2 homers, 31 RBIs), Ethan Turner (.339, 13 RBIs, 12 stolen bases), Matt Maiers (.337, 11 doubles, 3 homers, 32 RBIs), Bucky Timbrook (.303, 3 homers, 24 RBIs and Dane Heavener (.303, 18 RBIs, 18 stolen bases).
The Trojans, who had two four-year starters and four three-year starters, averaged 8.6 runs per game. That was plenty of support for a pitching staff that had a 2.11 ERA and a .206 batting average against.
In addition to the left-handed Josh Crawford, Maiers was 8-1 with 1.18 ERA and 66 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 59 1-3 innings. Ennis, who was 2-3 with 8 saves, had a 1.22 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 40 innings.
Garrett Crawford and Bucky Timbrook were both 3-0 and Ethan Smith was 2-0.
“Our pitching was our biggest strength,’’ VanMeter said. “Josh, Matt and Shane all had real low ERAs and a lot of strikeouts.”
Maiers recently was named a first-team All-State pitcher and Ennis was a first-team outfielder. Infielder David Delawder earned special mention on the All-State team, and Josh Crawford and Timbrook were honorable mention.
The win over Princeton was an early sign of things to come, and one of the more memorable wins for VanMeter. The most memorable day was likely April 24.
That day, at Jefferson, the Trojans beat Musselman, 6-4, and later beat perennial power and region nemesis Jefferson, 7-5.
“Those wins were huge. We’ve beaten Jefferson three times in school history,’’ said VanMeter. “To go to Jefferson and beat both those teams ... they were two very big wins for our program.”
Musselman and Jefferson both won 21 games this year.
Hampshire, which will have five returning starters next year, won the AMAC with a 11-1 record.
The Trojans split two games with No. 2 Allegany, winning 10-1 at Campobello in midseason before dropping the 9-8 regular-season finale at home.
Five sportswriters vote each week in the Times-News baseball poll. Ratings points are awarded on a five-point scale, with a first-place vote worth five points and a fifth-place vote worth one.
Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org