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Patient Patrick Henry fends off Eastside

By DARRELL ELY, Sports Correspondent • May 25, 2019 at 2:19 AM

COEBURN — Fourteenth century poet William Langland coined the adage, “Patience is a virtue.”

The Patrick Henry baseball team brought that statement to life Friday.

The Rebels worked five walks en route to four runs in the third inning and won 4-2 over Eastside in the Region 1D tournament quarterfinals at Tracy Stallard Field.

Patrick Henry (15-6) had six consecutive hitters reach base with two outs in the third to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 lead. None of the six hitters put a ball in play, five reaching on walks and the other via hit by pitch. The patience of Landon Smithson, Isaac Eldreth, Jacob Eisert and Cody Smith rewarded each with an RBI.

“We have worked on our approach at the plate for the last two weeks,” said Patrick Henry coach Tommy Thomas. “Our hitters were being patient and knew what pitch to look for. That was huge.”

The four runs proved to be enough for senior left-hander Eldreth, who struck out eight hitters over 6 1/3 innings of work.

Eastside (14-9) cut its deficit to two with an unearned run in the fifth inning. Nick Raymond singled to lead off the frame before moving up 90 feet on a groundout. With Justin Sexton at the plate, Raymond advanced to third on a passed ball and Sexton’s sacrifice fly to center allowed him to scamper home.

After the Raymond single, however, Eldreth retired six straight to send his team to the seventh with a two-run lead.

Eldreth wasn’t the only pitcher hanging zeros on the scoreboard, though. So was Spartans reliever Peyton Pope.

After beginning the game at shortstop, Pope took the mound with two outs in the third and did not surrender a run over the remainder of the contest. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by striking out Eldreth — the Rebels’ last threat of the night.

Pope allowed just one baserunner over the final three innings and struck out four.

The fine bullpen work gave Eastside a chance in the seventh.

Blake Jones became the first Spartan since Raymond to reach base when he singled to lead off the inning. A batter later, Tyler Sanders hit a hard smash at first baseman Colby Taylor, the ball ricocheting off his body. The ball took a fortuitous Patrick Henry bounce, with second baseman Isaac Presley scooping it up and returning it to Taylor for the first out of the inning.

Taylor came to the mound in search of a two-out save. He hit Raymond on a two-strike pitch to put the tying run on base before striking out Nick Livingston in an eight pitch at-bat and Justin Sexton on a high fastball to end the game.

“We normally would have gone to Taylor a bit earlier. I was hoping to let Eldreth go the whole game,” noted Thomas, whose squad advanced to play Holston on Tuesday with a trip to the VHSL Class 1 tournament on the line. “Taylor came in and shut it down. As long as he has the lead we feel really comfortable with him on the mound.”

The Rebels managed only three hits and didn’t have an RBI. However, they worked eight walks — two to Smithson, who finished 1-for-2 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.

Eastside scored in the home first thanks to the speed of Livingston. He walked, stole two bases and forced a balk while on third by jockeying down the line.

Austin Rittenberry and Jones each had two hits to pace Eastside’s six-hit effort.

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