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Gardner-powered Blue Devils top Warriors

By KEVIN MAYS, kmays@timesnews.net • May 2, 2018 at 1:24 AM

GATE CITY — The Gate City Blue Devils are starting to have fun on the baseball diamond and that suits junior Tyler Gardner just fine.

“You just got to have fun,” Gardner said after the Blue Devils pounded out nine hits on the way to a 7-4 Mountain 7 District win over Central on Tuesday at Grogan Park.

Gardner went 2-for-4, rapping out a two-RBI single and two-run home run.

Wins have been hard to come by this season for Gate City (5-9, 3-5), but Gardner said he and his teammates have turned the corner and are starting to peak at the right time.

“It’s a tough district, but we’re improving every day,” he said. “We’re working hard in practice every evening and we’re just having a bunch of fun out here.”

ON THE SCOREBOARD

The Blue Devils set the tone in the third inning when they jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Gardner’s two-run single and a two-RBI double from Drew Meyers.

The Warriors’ Zach James smacked a two-run homer that cut the lead to 4-2 in the fourth, but Gate City added another run in the bottom of the fourth when Jon Compton scored on a single from Charlie Quinn.

Gardner’s two-run smash over the left-field fence in the sixth added some security.

ON THE MOUND

Gate City coach Terry Fields was happy with his team’s offensive production but was equally impressed with its pitching performance.

Landon Turner (1-0) picked up the win by throwing five complete innings. The right-hander gave up three runs on three hits while striking out six and walking two. Meyers worked the last two innings, striking out four and walking one, to earn his first save of the season.

“The pitchers did well. They didn’t give up many walks. They made them hit the ball and that’s a big key,” Fields said.

MIXED EMOTIONS

“This is a pretty tough conference. Anytime you’re in this conference with Wise and Union and John Battle and you come away with a win, you’ve played pretty good baseball,” Fields added. “I’m happy. I hope we build on this for the second time around through our schedule.”

Central coach Brian Mills, on the other hand, was not happy.

“It’s been our season. We can’t hit,” Mills said.

QUESTIONS FOR WARRIORS

The loss was setback for the Warriors (6-7, 4-2), who have a big game looming later this week against John Battle.

The lack of hitting is a puzzle for Mills, as is the Warriors’ alarming number of strikeouts.

“We’ve had 27 strikeouts in the last two games. We’ve had more strikeouts than we’ve had hits. It’s that simple. If you don’t hit the ball, you’re not going to win many games,” Mills said. “We’ve changed everything and switched people around and nothing works.

“I don’t have an answer to it.”

Central also got a home run, a solo shot, from Jarrett Jessee in the top of the seventh.

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