This was especially true for the recently graduated high school players who didn’t have to cross the state line to get to the ballpark.
Daniel Boone’s Caleb Dishner went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, and Tennessee rolled to a 12-1 victory over visiting Virginia.
“It’s good that these kids can get together and it’s for a real good cause,” said Gate City coach Robbie Perry, who skippered the Virginia squad alongside J.W. Salyers of Powell Valley.
“We just came out to have a lot of fun. Of course a lot of these kids haven’t played in three weeks. It kind of showed on our part.”
Dishner, who collected a two- RBI single in the second inning and drove in another run in the fourth, was named Tennessee’s MVP.
Collecting the MVP trophy for the Virginia squad was Thomas Walker outfielder Zach Hensley, who scored the lone run for the Old Dominion athletes.
Hensley’s run came in the top of the eighth inning after he stroked a high fly ball to center field. Unicoi County’s Corey Headly committed an error when the ball tipped off his glove and struck him in the face.
Hensley, who was one of Southwest Virginia’s fastest athletes during his multisport career with the Pioneers, just kept motoring and didn’t stop until he crossed the plate.
“I just made contact and listened to the coach. He just kept screaming ‘Go! Go! Go!’” Hensley said. “Between second and third I noticed that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I think he must’ve lost it in the lights.”
Although shaken up, Headly was evidently not seriously injured.
Gate City’s Jordan Estepp, who struck out three while giving three runs during his three innings of relief for Virginia, managed to collect a double before the eighth inning ended.
Up until then, Virginia’s lone hit came courtesy of Abingdon’s Nathan Hagy, who stroked a stranded double in the third.
That was Hagy’s redemption, so to speak. During his two innings as Virginia’s starting pitcher, the former Falcons southpaw wrestled with control issues, giving up eight earned runs off five hits, striking out none and walking six. He also threw five wild pitches and hit a batter.
Picking up the victory for Tennessee was Volunteer’s Dylan Frazier, who struck out three and walked one, allowing only Hagy’s double over four scoreless innings.
Frazier got into a little trouble in the fourth thanks to a couple of Tennessee errors, but his own fielding skills helped him elude the ensuing bases-loaded jam. With one out, Clintwood’s Devin Gibson grounded to the mound. Frazier’s throw got the forceout at the plate and Volunteer catcher Tyler Hutson turned the double play with his throw to Sullivan Central’s Cody Hyden at first.
Frazier, who’ll play for Milligan this fall, has been throwing at least twice a week since his senior season at Volunteer ended.
“My arm felt pretty good,” Frazier said. “It’s always fun. Baseball is the greatest game in the world, if you ask me.”
Tennessee, which was coached by Daniel Boone’s Rob Hoover and Sullivan South’s Anthony Richardson, also got innings from Central’s Hyden, Boone’s Nick Jones and Elizabethton’s Casey Crapps.
Crapps had a single and a sacrifice fly for the home team, while Central’s Carl Roberts went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Sullivan East’s Tyler Gaby added an RBI double. Headly had a couple of hits, while Boone’s Aaron Payne and Unicoi’s Steve Kiernon each got an RBI.
Patrick Henry-Glade Spring slugger Ronnie Groves won the Battle of the Border home run derby. Groves, who’ll play for Virginia Intermont next fall, had nine homers during the regular season.
“I enjoyed it and I’m glad everybody got a chance to come out and enjoy their last time playing as high school players,” Groves said.