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Bearcats ride early surge to win over Blue Devils

By JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • May 28, 2019 at 12:56 AM

BRISTOL, Va. — It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece to be appreciated in the survive-and-advance format of playoff sports, something Mark Daniels would understand about as well as anybody.

In his 27th year as baseball coach at Virginia High, where he’s won three of the school’s seven state championships, Daniels was fine enough with his club’s 4-2 win over Gate City in Monday’s Region 2D quarterfinal at DeVault Stadium.

“Oh absolutely,” Daniels said. “A ‘W’ at this point is all that matters, because if you lose you’re going home.

“We’ve been hitting the ball really, really well, but our bats just didn’t show up tonight. Thank God our pitching and our defense did.”

The win lifted Virginia High (12-11), the Southwest District’s No. 2 seed, into Wednesday’s 5 p.m. semifinal against host John Battle, the Mountain 7 District’s top seed.

The Blue Devils (12-12) saw their season come to an end.

“Last year we were 7-13 and lost in the first round of the district, so having a .500 record and getting to the region is a nice step in the right direction,” said first-year Gate City coach Jonathon Salyer, a prior assistant with the team.

ROUGH START FOR DEVILS

The Bearcats got all the runs they needed in the first inning, scoring three times without the aid of a base hit.

Justin Lewis and Jordan Dixon drew leadoff walks and advanced on a wild pitch, both scoring when a Gate City infielder mishandled a groundball before heaving it out of play in attempt to get the trail runner headed for third base.

Two batters later, a sacrifice fly from John Clifton made it a 3-0 game.

“The first inning killed us,” Salyer said. “After that we held them to just one more run, and holding that good-hitting team to four runs is an accomplishment. I had a sophomore on the mound and the kid with the error(s) on that one play is a freshman, so it may have been a little case of nerves there.”

NOT MUCH OFFENSE

Neither team did much offensively, each getting just three hits.

Virginia High starter Nolan Hoss took the win, working five innings before giving way to reliever Cole Hartsock.

Hoss allowed both Gate City runs, which were set up by a Carter Babb double and a Jon Compton single. Taylor drove in one of the Blue Devils’ runs.

Jake Taylor started and worked five innings, taking the loss for Gate City.

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