TAZEWELL, Va. - Virginia High catcher Ty Weaver dug a ball out of the dirt with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. and threw out the potential tying run at third base to give the Bearcats a 7-6 Southwest District tournament semifinal victory over Tazewell on Tuesday night at Lou Peery Field.
Virginia High will play Lebanon in the SWD tournament finals on Friday at Lebanon, and also picked up a Region 2D home game next week.
Both teams battled to the end and both coaches praised the effort.
“We’ve been playing great defense all year but we had a few miscues early and hung in there against a good team,” said Virginia High head coach Mark Daniels, whose Bearcats won despite committing five errors.
The Bearcats broke on top in the first inning with two runs on an inside-the-park home run by Jean Mulumba. Tazewell bounced back with three in their half of the frame on hits by Jon Davis, Trey Blankenship and Luke Childress and a sacrifice fly from Brayden Fowler.
Davis made the lead stand, allowing just two base runners over the next three innings. The Bulldogs picked up single runs in the second and fourth and took a 5-2 lead into the fifth. Singles by Conner Davidson and Deshaun Taylor and a Tazewell error cut the lead to 5-3.
Isaac Berry, who hung tough throughout the game, set the Bulldogs down in order in the bottom of the fifth before allowing a two-out single to Bryson McCall in the sixth, but was able to induce Caleb O’Neal to pop out for the Bulldogs.
Virginia High tied the score at 5-5 in the sixth after Cole Hartsock walked, Nathan Barlow doubled and Taylor followed with a sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth. Davidson doubled and scored on an error to give the Bearcats the lead.
Berry doubled and scored as the ‘Cats got an insurance run in the seventh.
Trey Blankenship was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh for Tazewell. He was cut down at third on a throw by the Bearcats’ right fielder after Luke Childress singled.
Childress moved up on a hit by Brody Patterson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jackson Myers. Gideon Collier drew a two-out walk and Taylor came on to replace Berry on the mound and to face Davis, who was 2-for-3 on the night.
Patterson broke for third when the pitch fell into the dirt and Weaver nailed him at third base for the final out to end the game.
“That was on me,” Tazewell head coach Mike Fowler said. “We’ve been aggressive on the bases all year.”
Virginia High survived to play unbeaten Lebanon in the SWD finals on Friday.
“That was huge,’ Daniels said. “If they are successful the winning run is at second.”
Tazewell will host Richlands in a third place game on Friday. All four clubs will play next week in the Region 2D tournament.