MARION, Va. – It’s been a week to remember for Isaac Berry.
The adventure began on Monday afternoon when the senior pitcher for the Virginia High Bearcats announced he will be going to Radford University to play baseball.
On Tuesday, Berry starred on the mound and at the plate as VHS won at Southwest District rival Richlands.
Another scrapbook moment came Friday, as Berry guided the Bearcats to a 6-1 win over the Marion Scarlet Hurricanes.
“I think we’re all running on adrenaline at this point,” Berry said. “We knew that we had to win two tough district games this weekend, and we got the job done.”
VHS finished the regular season tied with Tazewell with two SWD losses. Tazewell and VHS will meet Tuesday at 5 in Richlands for the right to host the SWD and Region 2D tournament titles.
“Our first goal every year is to win the district and we’ve put ourselves in that situation again,” VHS coach Mark Daniels said. “From where we started this season to where we are now, there’s a lot to be proud of.”
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“I was just happy to get all that out of the way so I could come out and compete,” Berry said.
With his blend of well-located and well-timed off-speed pitches and fastballs, Berry was solid as usual Friday. He allowed just four hits over the first six innings while striking out five. Brody Jones pitched the final inning for VHS, striking out two.
“I knew that we were going to hit the ball and play solid defense, so I just wanted to throw strikes,” Berry said.
Daniels said he’s comfortable with his combo of Berry and Jones on the mound.
“Those two guys keep us in a lot of games,” Daniels said. “Isaac has competed all four years and he was solid again tonight. We played error-free defense against a tremendous offensive team in Marion and we had some timely hits.”
The Bearcats (8-12, 6-2) gave Berry some insurance by scoring three runs in the opening inning. Berry and senior catcher Ty Weaver led VHS with two hits apiece, while Berry and Cody Griffith each drove in two runs. Weaver, who reached on two more bunts Friday, collected a total of five stolen bases between the Richlands and Marion games.
Berry has compiled a batting average in the .300 range, but he will focus on pitching at Radford.
“I love to hit and I take pride in it, but I enjoy pitching even more,” Berry said. “Having Jones to run down balls in centerfield and working with a catcher like Weaver is great. Ty has been catching me since we were both around 10. Ty gives me a great target and he’s like a brick wall on balls in the dirt.”
It was also a busy week for Marion, as the Scarlet Hurricanes (13-6, 5-3) downed SWD rivals Tazewell and Richlands among their four games. Graham and Richlands will open the SWD tournament Tuesday afternoon at 1 in Richlands.
Marion scored its lone run Friday in the fourth inning behind a walk and a double steal.
“Berry controls that curveball well,” Marion coach Nolan Lipscomb said. “We couldn’t lift any pitches or get a solid hit.”
Despite having just two seniors in Bradley Thomas and Ricky Carroll, the Scarlet Hurricanes crafted one of their best regular season records in program history to earn the No. 3 seed in the SWD.
“These kids have been beaten so many times in baseball, so it’s great to see them finally have some success at the varsity level,” Lipscomb said. “When we’re hitting the ball, few teams are able to beat us.”
Marion, which is hitting .365 as a team, features several productive underclassmen who gained experience on the Smyth County based Bombers travel ball team led by current Marion assistant Kevin Terry.
Berry will have to delay his signing party, as he will likely be back on the mound in Tuesday’s showdown against Tazewell.
“That’s exactly the way I want it,” Berry said. “I want to pitch every game I can. I can celebrate when we win our last game.”
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