The Halifax County American Legion Post 8 Junior Legion baseball team advanced to the second round of the district tournament with a win over Christiansburg Post 59 at Halifax County High School on Wednesday, but not without many anxious moments in an 8-7 win.
Blake Duffer, Gavin Colwell and Kyle Barker finished with two hits apiece, and Luke Fulcher, Jackson Newton and Kolby Fisher each added one hit.
Colwell finished with two RBIs, and Fulcher, Fisher and Barker had one RBI apiece for Post 8.
Ben Miller, Ian Perkins, Damion Boyd, Bryce Long and Marshall Basham each had one hit for Post 59, Boyd’s a two-run double in the sixth inning.
Leading 8-0 after a seven-run fourth inning, Halifax County had to hold off a Post 59 rally to seal the win, with Post 59 scoring two runs in the fifth inning, four in the sixth and one in the seventh, with the game-tying run stranded at second base after a groundout to Post 8 reliever Gavin Colwell.
Evan Clark got the win, pitching 4.2 innings and striking out seven batters, while allowing two unearned runs on three hits and five walks.
Colwell got the save pitching one inning, the seventh, and finishing with two strikeouts and one walk, with the Post 59 run scoring on a Post 8 throwing error.
Peyton Chavis relieved Clark with two outs in the fifth inning and pitched to six batters before Leo Noblin relieved with two outs in the sixth inning.
Chavis and Noblin struck out a combined four batters and walked four batters, with a wild pitch, two-run double by Damion Boyd and a flyball error accounting for four runs.
Post 8 took a 1-0 lead after two innings after Fisher reached base on a two-out error, stole second and scored on Barker’s RBI single.
Post 8 sent 14 hitters to the plate in the fourth inning and scored seven runs on six hits, including doubles by Fulcher, Duffer and Colwell and singles by Newton, Fisher and Barker.
Post 8 also took advantage of two Post 59 errors to add to its margin, but Post 59 cut into its deficit with two runs in the fifth inning on a pair of Post 8 errors, two walks and a wild pitch to make it 8-2.
Four runs off a double, four walks and a two-out error pulled Post 59 to within two runs at 8-6 after six innings, and a two-out walk and fielding error made it 8-7 in the seventh inning.
With two outs and the game-tying run on second base, Colwell dove to his right to gather in a ground ball before throwing to first base to nip the batter at the bag for the final out of the game.
Post 8 (9-6) played Lynchburg at Heritage High School in the second round of the tournament on Thursday, and Coach Josh Perkins is looking for a more complete game, one with fewer errors that allowed Post 59 to get back into the game after Post 8 seemed to be on cruise control.
“I thought Evan Clark pitched a great game, but we fell into the kind of trap we fell into at the start of the season,” said Perkins.
“Honestly, they were all gifts. They didn’t hit anybody too hard, but the relief corps came in, and they walked too many batters.
“When the ball was put into play, we were having routine fly balls dropped, and honestly that just can’t happen at this level.”
Despite the sloppy game, Post 8 came away with a win, and that’s the biggest thing, according to Perkins.
“Four teams tonight got a loss, so we’ll be in a winner’s bracket game tomorrow,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens, but obviously we have to tighten up. The pitchers have to throw strikes, and the defense has to make the routine plays.
“I don’t think we swung it as well as we normally can. We had one really good inning to show what we can do, but if the sticks keep swinging like they did that one inning, and we make the routine plays, it gives us a shot.
“But, if we play like we did the last three innings, we’ll have a hard time staying alive.”