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Virginia High prevails over Gate City in season-opening marathon

March 20th, 2014 12:19 am by George Thwaites

Virginia High prevails over Gate City in season-opening marathon

BRISTOL, Va. — Last year, ending Virginia High's baseball season on the Bearcats' home field was Gate City's most noteworthy accomplishment.

Wednesday night at Devault Stadium, where it ended was Virginia High's fresh start.

In a mutual season opener, Honaker transfer Austin Kiser picked up an impressive victory in relief, striking out 14 and the Bearcats held on to defeat the Blue Devils 5-4 in 10 innings.

Kiser took over for Austin Miles two outs in the third after the VHS starter got shelled for three runs off four hits, including doubles by Hunter Collier and Reed.

Weston Lane pushed Reed across with a sacrifice bunt for the 4-0 lead. That's the last damage the Blue Devils (0-1) would do against Kiser, who held them hitless over the next six innings.

"Every inning he said his arm felt great. It appeared that velocity and command were still staying right there," said Virginia High coach Mark Daniels, who wasn't going to let Kiser pitch past the 10th.

"We were hoping we didn't have to use him tonight. But that's why we started him at designated hitter. Just in case the pitch count got high with Miles. We didn't expect him to pitch a (complete) game in a game," Daniels said.

Kiser allowed a walk in the sixth and again in the ninth but made sure both stayed stranded. Reed's pop fly in the 10th that landed in shallow right among three miscommunicating fielders raised Gate City hopes. Alex Qualls struck out looking and that was the end of the beginning of that.

"(Kiser) makes a difference in that ballclub. He's a great kid. We've seen him for four years in the black and orange, but three of those on a different team," said Gate City coach Robbie Perry.

Blake Hillman (0-1) picked up the loss in relief for Gate City. He held off the 'Cats persistent efforts in the shutout eighth and ninth. Two outs into the 10th inning, the 11th appeared imminent.

But Hillman allowed a walk to Daulton Horne, who went for broke on the subsequent hit-and-run. Horne rounded second as Justin Brown roped one into right. The lead runner had lots of room to beat the final throw from the outfield.

"Everybody knows J.B. can run so they look for him to bunt. But he's been working on his swing and barreled a ball up earlier in the game. I was hoping that if he could find a ball in the gap, Daulton runs well enough," Daniels said. "Had Daulton not been running on the play, I don't think he scores. So it was well-executed on both our parts."

Brown had a double in the third inning for Virginia High (1-0). Miles had a double in the fourth, crossing the plate on Chandler Daniels' groundout to short. Alex Griffith, who got gunned down at second trying to stretch a his sixth-inning single, stroked a two-RBI double in the seventh that tied the game up at 4.

Perry, who got a couple of terrific plays from left fielder Reece Williams, was fairly stoked about the opener's implications for what lies ahead for Gate City.

"This is a totally different ballclub from last season," Perry said. "We got no-hit the first ballgame of the season and the bottom fell out. I'm real tickled to death tonight. With the effort, the attitudes, with everything."

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