On a very hot, sunny day in Radford, the Blacksburg Minors faced the host team of Radford, in the finals of the winner’s bracket of the Dixie Youth District 3 Tournament.
Sam Helton took the mound for Blacksburg and quickly retired Radford, by getting three of the first four batters out. He struck out the lead off hitter, got the # 2 hitter to pop up, and then after a single, forced a ground out to end the inning.
Offensively, Blacksburg went to work quickly. With one out, Sam Helton hit hard fly ball for a single. He then advanced to 2B and 3B on passed balls. Tyler VandeVord hit a hard line drive RBI single, scoring Helton. Due to an outfield error, VandeVord advanced all the way to 3B. Bennett Shealor hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring VandeVord. A strike out ended the inning. But, Blacksburg had made a big statement by jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the 2nd, Helton kept Radford scoreless again. He struck out three of the four players he faced, with the fourth only reaching on a bunt.
Radford retired Blacksburg in consecutive order in the bottom half of the frame and at the end of two complete innings of play, the score was still 2-0.
Tate Harrison was inserted to pitch in the top of the 3rd inning for Blacksburg, and held Radford scoreless. After Harrison got the first out via a strikeout, the Blacksburg infield displayed some great defense after a couple of walks by registering a fielder’s choice and an unassisted out on a base runner.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Blacksburg’s offense would go to work and score three more runs to extend their lead to 5-0. Ethan Young and Tate Harrison both hustled and reached base on an error to get things started. After two consecutive infield fly rule outs, Parker Epperley drew a walk to load the bases. Sam Helton then came through with a hard fly ball for a triple, scoring all three base runners and racking up 3 RBIs. A pop up ended the inning and stranded Helton.
In the top of the 4th, Radford got their offense going, scoring three runs on three hits and two walks to narrow the lead to 5-3.
Blacksburg quickly responded by picking up two runs to extend their lead to 7-3. With one out, Aiden Seeley drew a walk to get on base. Ryan Creehan then hit long double, scoring Seeley. Creehan would advance to 3B on an errant throw by Radford. Creehan then scored on a passed ball. After another out, Scott Hudson drew a walk, and Ethan Young hit a hard grounder for a single, advancing Hudson to 2B. The next batter grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning and scoring threat.
Scott Hudson was inserted to pitch in the 5th inning for Blacksburg. Radford kept battling and scored another run in top of the 5th to cut the lead to 7-4. After a lead off single, the batter stole 2B, and scored on an infield error by Blacksburg. Hudson retired the last three batters by ground out, strike out, and a pop up to the infield.
In the bottom half of the inning, Blacksburg responded yet again, scoring another run to re-extend their lead 8-4. Sam Helton drew a lead off walk and after an out, Helton advanced to 2B on a passed ball. Bennett Shealor was HBP and took first base. Shealor stole 2B, and a base runner was tagged out at home on good defense by Radford. Aiden Seeley reached first base by hustling down the line and an error by Radford, while Shealor scored on the play. A ground out ended the inning. After five complete innings of play, Blacksburg led 8-4.
In the top of the 6th, Radford would not quit and made things very interesting with some timley hits and uncharacteristic Blacksburg errors. Radford’s lead off batter reached via an infield error, and after a quick strike out, another hitter reached via an error to put two runners on base. Hudson struck out the next batter for the 2nd out of the inning. Then, what would have been the final out of the game, another infield error put a runner on base, and allowed the first hitter to score. With two runners on, a timely double produced two runs for Radford. A single then scored the fourth and tying run of the game. A seeing eye pop fly fell in between 2nd base and RF as two Blacksburg players collided attempting to field the ball and were consequently shaken up. Ryan Creehan hustled all the way from CF to pick up the ball and throw it in to save a run. Hudson then buckled down and forced the next hitter to pop up to the infield for the last out to preserve the tie.
With the game tied in the bottom of the 6th, Blacksburg knew their offense had to go to work. Logan Vance led off the inning with a ground ball single. Tate Harrison laid down a great sacrifice bunt, advancing Vance to 2B. After the second out of the inning, Parker Epperly hit a hard line drive double, scoring Vance to end the game in dramatic fashion.
Blacksburg threw three pitchers in the game, each going two innings. Sam Helton scattered four hits, struck out four and did not walk anyone. Tate Harrison, scattered three hits, struck out two, and walked four. Scott Hudson earned the win, giving up four hits, but only one earned run, struck out three, and walked one batter.
Offensively, Blacksburg was led by Sam Helton, who was 2/2 with three RBIs. Blacksburg registered seven total hits, with Parker Epperely, Tyler VandeVord, Ryan Creehan, Logan Vance, and Ethan Young each getting a hit.
With the win, Blacksburg is now the only team left in the tournament without a loss and faces Pulaski East at 8:00 pm on Monday. If Blacksburg wins, the winner of the Christiansburg / Radford game will have to beat Blacksburg twice to win the tournament. If Blacksburg loses, then there will be three teams with one loss and a “draw” will be done to determine who gets the bye.
Tag(s): 9-10 Minors