GRAY — For those wondering which team is the Clinch Mountain District favorite, wait no longer.
Virginia High started its baseball schedule in mid-season form Wednesday night, plowing through Daniel Boone 11-1 in a game shortened to five innings.
The Bearcats banged out 15 hits and committed no errors. They got hits in eight batting-order spots.
Pitchers Dylan Sullins and Jared Tate combined to throw a four-hitter.
“The most pleasant thing was that we made no errors,’’ Bearcats coach Mark Daniels said. “Our pitchers threw strikes and we played good defense.’’
Entering the game, Daniels wasn’t quite sure VHS would fare well against a ballclub with nine games under its belt.
“Our hitting was a real plus,’’ he said. “We hit the ball hard for an opening game. In the early innings we didn’t capitalize on some chances but after a couple of times through the lineup, our batters relaxed.’’
Anthony McCoy swung the big bat, slamming a three-run homer in the top of the fifth inning to put the Bearcats in position to nail down the abbreviated victory.
“Anthony truly has some pop in his bat,’ Daniels said. “He struggled a bit last year but has come around.’’
McCoy also singled and drove in four runs. Seth Davis doubled and singled.
The word around the district has Gate City as the team to beat. “Ultimately, our goal is to win the Clinch Mountain title, make it to the postseason and go from there,’’ Daniels said.
VHS will head for Charleston, S.C., next weekend to compete in a prestigious tournament. “These players will be together 24 hours a day with an opportunity to further bond,’’ Daniels said. “Team chemistry is the key to being successful.’’
The Bearcats on Monday will face St. Edmunds, Ohio, a team ranked No. 24 in the country — with two projected first-round draft picks.
“Traditionally, (the Bearcats) are a power in Virginia,’’ Boone coach Rob Hoover said.
“I like to schedule tough. Against teams like this, we’ve got to play well. We’ll be going to their place later in the year.’’
The same four Boone starters coming out of basketball also were football starters. “The thing about it is,’’ Hoover said, “all four are pitchers. Once we get them in shape, we’ll be alright.’’
Boone (4-6) had a banner season in 2009 but was clobbered by graduation losses.
“We’re having to replace seven starters but we’ll get better,’’ Hoover said. “We’re trying to find roles for our kids. We’ve been relying on younger players. Four freshmen have been starters in some of the games.’’
Boone’s four hits were by Hunter Salts, Caleb Cochran, Travis Keever and Hayden Chandley. Hunter Ford drove in the only run with a sacrifice fly.