First, the bad news — the Halifax County High School baseball team lost to Tunstall High School 9-4 in Friday night's Piedmont District Tournament championship game at Halifax County High School.
The good news — Friday night's loss has no effect on the Comets' seeding or posture for next week's VHSL Region 5D Tournament.
While Friday night's loss to Tunstall High School has no impact on the Comets with regard to the Region 5D Tournament, it was not the way the Comets had envisioned district play would end.
Tunstall High School (19-4 overall) rang up a 9-0 lead on the Comets after four-and-half innings, and the Comets committed six errors and stranded 13 runners by the time the night ended.
On a positive note, the Comets did not give up, rallying to plate four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and threatening to score in the final two innings, getting two runners on the bases in the sixth inning and loading the bases in the seventh inning before coming up short.
"We played a really good team that was coming in hot," said Comets head coach Kenneth Day.
"They've been on fire lately and playing really well. We knew we had our work cut out for us."
Day said there was no lack of focus on the part of the players heading into the game.
"They (Tunstall High School) just got some big hits when they needed to, and we made some bad decisions and had some bad execution on some parts," Day explained.
"At least we fought to come back. We're going to clean up the mistakes and we're going to be fine next week. We've just got to execute and play well."
Tunstall High School head coach Barry Shelton said a five-run rally in the third inning was the key to his team's win, with three more runs in the fifth inning also being big for the team.
"Our offense got to clicking early and got us some runs, and that helped us get a lot of confidence," Shelton said.
"I have the utmost respect for Halifax and their baseball program. Year-in and year-out they are very tough to beat. This is a tough win to get out of here with. We're very happy."
Tunstall High School took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Seth Bonar walked and scored on a two-out single from Hunter Yeatts. The Trojans broke the game open with five runs in the top of the third inning, two of them coming on a two-fun homer by Yeatts, who led his team with a 3-4 effort at the plate and three RBIs.
Three more runs in the top of the fifth inning, two of them coming on run-scoring hits from Dylan Young and Yeatts, put the Trojans up 9-0.
Halifax County High School battled back to score four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to cut the deficit to five runs at 9-4. Tyler Mabe reached base with a walk and Dylan Clark followed with a double, sending Mabe to third base. Shaun Perkins walked to load the bases.
A sacrifice fly to rightfield by Troy Ferrell plated Mabe for the first run, and a hit by Drew Harlow scored Clark. Jackson Dunavant followed with a hit to move Harlow to second base. Will Wallace followed with a hit to load the bases. Joey Duffer followed with a hit to score both Harlow and Blake Duffer, who was running for Dunavant, to make the score 9-4.
Halifax County High School got two runners on base in the sixth inning when Clark walked and Ferrell followed with a double with two out. In the seventh inning, Joey Duffer got on base with a walk with two out, Zack Lowery followed with a hit and Mabe came through with a hit to load the bases. Unfortunately for the Comets, Clark grounded out to end the game, with the Comets stranding five runners on the sacks over the course of the last two innings.
The Comets had a dozen hits in the game, with Perkins and Harlow leading the team with two hits each. Mabe, Clark, Ferrell, Alex Lowery, Wallace, Joey Duffer, Zack Lowery and Dunavant all had one hit.
Tunstall High School had 10 hits, with Yeats leading the Trojans with three hits and Grant Elliott and Young following with a two hits each.