RINGGOLD —There have been times this season when Halifax County High School's baseball team has struggled at the plate. Tuesday night was not one of them.
The Comets capitalized on five hits in the first inning to plate five runs and added four more runs in the top of the seventh inning, two of them coming on back-to-back solo homers from Andrew Abbott and Jake Hughes, to roll over Dan River High School 9-1.
Tuesday night's road win was the fourth win in a row for the Comets who improved their season record to 6-3. Dan River High School dropped to 6-3 with the loss.
"We've played some good teams lately," noted Comets Head Coach Kenneth Day.
"Last week was a good momentum thing for us, winning three games in a row. Tonight is going to help us on Friday (against Magna Vista High School). We're finally starting to hit the ball the way we're capable of hitting, and finally starting to play defense the way we're capable of playing. As long as we continue to get good pitching, we will be fine."
The Comets had 12 hits in the game, with Abbott and Kelonte Gutrich leading the team with identical 3-4 nights at the plate. Arthur Watts was 2-3 for the night and Hughes went 2-4 at the plate. Clay Lloyd and Josh Barker chipped in a hit each.
Halifax County High School mounted a big offensive onslaught in the top of the first inning, with Abbott, Hughes and Watts stringing together back-to-back hits to kick off the game. Watts scored Abbott with his hit, Hughes scored on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Tyler Duffer, a hit from Gutrich scored Watts and a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Jacob McKinney scored Lloyd. A two-out hit by Barker scored Gutrich to put the Comets up 5-0.
Day said while he likes to see his team get off to a quick start, he was somewhat surprised at his team scoring five runs in the first inning.
"I didn't expect it, not against a good team like Dan River," Day said.
"But, that's the way baseball is played. Good things happen to you sometimes, and sometimes things don't go your way. Things went our way tonight, and we were fortunate to come out on top."
The score remained at 5-0 until the Comets came up to the plate in the top of the seventh inning. Then came another big rally.
Abbott kicked off the inning with a solo homer and Hughes followed, putting the Comets up 7-0. Both homers occurred on the first pitch the players saw, with both pitches being fastballs inside.
"They (the Dan River High School pitchers) were continuously pounding me inside all night," Abbott explained.
"I just got a thought in my mind that if he (the Dan River High School pitcher) throws me one inside I'm just going to yank it. I've got the green light from Coach Torian, and the team is behind me. I just put a good swing on it and it went out."
Hughes said he followed Abbott's example.
"Andrew got that perfect pitch and I saw what he did," Hughes pointed out.
"I got the same pitch and I just hit the ball solid and it went over (the fence)."
The Comets added two more runs before the inning ended, taking advantage of four walks and a wild pitch on a third strike to run their edge to 9-0.
Dan River High School scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when Bennett McCann came up with a two-out single and scored on a hit by Jacob Stewart to make the final 9-1 score.
While the Comets swung the bats well, they also got good pitching. Abbott, the starter, went five and two-third innings to get the win, striking out nine of the 24 Dan River High School batters he faced. He yielded four scattered walks and four scattered hits.
Drew Lester, who took over for Abbott in the bottom of the sixth inning, got the save. He struck out two of the seven batters he faced and allowed one walk and two hits.
Dan River High School had six hits in the game with Stewart leading the Wildcats with two hits.
The Comets will be back in action Friday, going on the road to face Magna Vista High School in Ridgeway. Game time is 5 p.m.