On Monday night, the Blacksburg Minor All-Stars entered play in the fourth round of the Dixie Youth District 3 Tournament as the only team without a loss. Blacksburg played Pulaski West, out of the loser bracket for an opportunity to go to the championship game on Tuesday night. The Blacksburg Minors would not be denied as they battled Pulaski in a very hard fought game, and outlasted the Cougars 12-7.
Sam Helton started on the mound for Blacksburg and held Pulaski scoreless for two innings. In the top of the 1st, he struck out the first two batters, and then after two singles, struck out the next batter to end the inning. In the top of the 2nd, he retired the side in consecutive order, forcing a pop up, and two groundouts. Great Blacksburg infield defense behind him helped keep the Cougars in check.
In the bottom of the 1st, Blacksburg wasted little time getting their potent offense going, scoring four runs to take 4-0 lead right out of the gate. Parker Epperley led off with a single and then stole 2B. Sam Helton hit a hard fly ball for a RBI double, scoring Epperley. Tyler VandeVord drew a walk to put a second runner on base for Blacksburg. A very deep fly ball by Bennett Shealor moved the runners over to 3B and 2B respectively. In fact, it was so deep the Pulaski center fielder made a great leaping catch, crashing into and over the fence. Sam Helton then scored on a passed ball, while VandeVord move to 3B on the same play. VandeVord then also scored on a passed ball. After a strike out, Ryan Creehan hit a hard single and then advanced to 2B on a passed ball. Logan Vance hit line drive double, scoring Creehan from 2B. A pop up to the second baseman ended the inning, but not before the Bruins had taken a commanding 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Blacksburg was held scoreless, but Tate Harrison hit a hard grounder for a single, stole 2B, and was stranded. After two complete innings of play, Blacksburg led 4-0.
Pulaski erupted for six runs in the top of the 3rd to take a 6-4 lead. The inning got off to a great start with Helton striking out the lead off batter. But, then a single, and two consecutive walks, followed by timely Cougar hits, pushed several runs across. Catcher Bennett Shealor caught an errant throw and put a very difficult sweep tag on a runner at home to save a run. After another single and two doubles, Blacksburg made a pitching change, inserting Scott Hudson, who struck out the next batter to end the inning and contain the damage.
In typical fashion, the Blacksburg Minors quickly responded, scoring two runs of their own to tie the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Parker Epperley led off with a single and after an out, Epperley stole 2B. Tyler VandeVord hustled down the line, beating out an errant Cougar throw to get on base. Epperley advanced to 3B on the play. VandeVord then stole 2B. After a strike out and the 2nd out of the inning, the Bruins responded under pressure when Aiden Seeley hit a triple, scoring Epperely and VandeVord. A strike out ended the inning, stranding Seeley on 3B.
Pulaski battled right back, scoring a run in the top of the 4th to once again pull ahead 7-6. A lead off strike out was a good start for the Bruin defense, but then an infield error produced a base runner for Pulaski, who then advanced on a passed ball. Two walks then loaded the bases for the Cougars. Tyler VandeVord was inserted to pitch and after Pulaski drew an RBI walki, VandeVord registered a huge strike out to end the inning and leave bases loaded for the Cougars.
Realizing they were in a dogfight, Blacksburg went to work, scoring two more runs in the bottom half of the frame to re-take the lead 8-7. With one out, Ethan Young hit a hard grounder for a single and Tate Harrison followed with a well-hit ball and beat out the throw to 1B. With the table set, Parker Epperley recorded his third hit of the game, scoring Young and advancing Harrison to 3B. Epperley then stole 2B to put runners at 3B and 2B. Sam Helton hit a RBI ground out to the first baseman, scoring Harrison, and advancing Epperley to 3B. A ground out ended the inning, and stranded Epperley at 3B.
In the top of the 5th, VandeVord went to work and got the first batter to ground out and then struck out the next batter of the inning. What would have been the 3rd out of the inning, a Pulaski batter reached base via a Bruin infield error. Two walks then put two runners on base and both runners advanced on a passed ball to put themselves at 3B and 2B. VandeVord, however, would not be denied as he struck out the next batter to end the inning and the scoring threat. After 5 ½ innings of play, the score remained 8-7.
In the bottom of the 5th, Blacksburg busted the game open, scoring four runs and increased their lead to 12-7. Bennett Shealor got things going with a hard fly ball for a single and he advanced to 2B on a passed ball. After a strike out and a pop up that recorded two quick outs for Blacksburg, Logan Vance hit a single and advanced to 2B with very smart base running. Shealor, who had advanced to 3B on Vance’s hit, then scored on a passed ball while Vance advanced to 3B. Vance would also score on a passed ball. Ethan Young hit a hard ground ball for a single and then Tate Harrison beat out Pulaski error to reach base safely for the third time in the game. Back to the top of the order, Parker Epperley hustled down the line and beat out a bobbled infield play, scoring Young and advancing Harrison to 3B. A line drive out ended the inning, but not before Blacksburg had taken a resounding 12-7 lead late in the game.
In the top of the 6th, Parker Epperley was inserted to pitch for Blacksburg and got the first batter to ground out. After a Pulaski single, a batter drew a walk and then Epperely got the next batter to pop up for the 2nd out of the inning. The next batter then hit a ground ball to Tyler VandeVord who flipped the ball to second baseman Sam Helton to get the force out at 2B and end the game and propell themselves into the Championship game.
Offensively, Blacksburg pounded out 13 hits. The Bruins were led by Parker Epperely, who was 3/4 and had 2 RBIs. Logan Vance, Ethan Young, and Tate Harrison were all 2/3 while Sam Helton was 2/4 with 3 RBIs. Bennett Shealor, Aiden Seeley, Ryan Creehan, were all 1/3.
With the 12-7 hard fought win, the Blacksburg Minors advance to the Championship of the Dixie Youth District 3 Tournament on Tuesday. They will face Christiansburg, who eliminated Radford in the losers bracket. Christiansburg must beat Blacksburg twice to win the tournament. If a second game is necessary, it will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
In four games thus far in the tournament, Blacksburg has scored 43 runs, or an average of 10.75 per game.
Championship game time is 6:00 pm.
Tag(s): 9-10 Minors