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Tunstall Beats Blacksburg 4-2 in 2nd Round of Region Play

06/06/2014, 1:28am EDT
By D. Gresh

Game Dominated by Great Pitching


The Blacksburg Bruins returned to Covington on Thursday to play the 2nd round of the region tournament. The game was rained out on Wednesday due to strong storms and lightning   In the prior game on Wednesday, Turner Ashby and William Byrd were delayed in the 4th, with Ashby winning 4-1, and their pitcher in complete control of the game when it was suspended.  

However, due to the new VHSL pitching rules, he was not allowed to pitch in the continuation game on Thursday.  Consequently, the Terriers made an incredible comeback to win 7-6 after Turner Ashby's #3 and #4 pitchers struggled.  Because Ashby's ace last pitched on Monday in the opening round of region play, he became eligible for two innings due to the one day delay.   However, if inserted in the game, he would not be eligible on Friday for the region finals.  Ashby finally brought him in during the bottom of the 7th with the game tied, bases loaded, and no outs.  But, it was too little too late.  Although he promptly got two outs, the winning run scored on a wild pitch.  
In the nightcap between Tunstall and Blacksburg, both Monday's pitchers also became eligible for two innings on Thursday, but like the Ashby situation, if either pitched, they would not be eligible for Friday's region finals.
Blacksburg and Tunstall both sent sophomore left handers (Jake Verniel and Adam Wade) to the mound to battle one another.  In typical play off fashion, it was an excellent pitching duel and with base runners at a premium, the team that makes the most mistakes, usually loses, especially late in the game.
In the top of the 1st inning, Wade retired the Bruins in order.  Lead off batter, Jon Hinson, reached on an error, but then was forced out on a double play ball.  The next batter flied out to end the inning for Blacksburg.
In an exact mirror of Blacksburg's first at bat, Tunstall's lead off batter reached on an error and then Verniel came back and got the next batter to force out on a fielder's choice ground ball.  Two consecutive walks loaded the bases for the Trojans.  Verniel recorded a strike out for the second out of the inning.  A single scored a run for Tunstall (1-0) and then another single, added a second run for of the inning (2-0).  Verniel forced a fly out to end the inning, or the 4th overall (in the inning).  
Neither team scored in the 2nd or 3rd innings.  Verniel retired the side in order in the bottom of the 2nd on just nine pitches and in the bottom of the 3rd, he struck out the side on fifteen pitches.
For Blacksburg, Tyler Davis and Jacob Sparrow drew back-to-back walks in the top of the 2nd but were stranded.  In the top of the 3rd, Hinson drew a walk with one out, followed by a Morgan McCoy walk. Ethan Goforth then reached on an infield error, which loaded the bases for the Bruins.  However, Wade struck out the next batter and then forced a fly out to leave the bases loaded for Blacksburg.  
Both teams were retired in consecutive order in the 4th inning.  Blacksburg was retired on fourteen pitches, while Verniel retired Tunstall on just nine pitches, or the absolute minimum.   
With Tunstall leading 2-0 in the top of the 5th, Blacksburg made it's move and tied the game at 2-2 in dramatic fashion.  Verniel helped himself by leading off with a single and advanced to 2B on a throwing error.  Grayson Shelton was inserted as courtesy runner for Verniel.  Tunstall's catcher threw a runner out on the bases and then the next Blacksburg batter flied out in foul territory for two quick outs.  McCoy reached on an error by the Tunstall short stop and then Goforth singled, advancing McCoy to 2B.  Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch, to 3B and 2B respectively.  With two outs and a 1-1 count, Jake Schirmer delivered a two RBI line drive single to left field to score both runners and tie the game at 2-2.  Tunstall made a pitching change at that point, going to Ryan Tomlinson, who forced a ground out to end the inning for Blacksburg.  
The tie was short lived, however, as Tunstall came right back and scored two runs to break the tie and re-take the lead, 4-2.  The lead off batter reached on an infield error, and then the Trojans sacrificed the runner over to scoring position at 2B.  A single advanced the runner to 3B, and then a batter reached 1B on an infield error, which also allowed the runner to score (3-2).  A fielder's choice recorded an out for the Bruins, but then a double scored another run (4-2) for Tunstall.  A subsequent walk loaded the bases for the Trojans, and Blacksburg brought Ace Morgan McCoy in to try to contain the damage, which he did.  McCoy got the last out of the inning by striking out the batter and leaving Tunstall with bases loaded. 
Blacksburg was retired in consecutive order on just eleven pitches in the top of the 6th by Tomlinson. 
McCoy returned the favor in the bottom half of the frame, facing just four batters and retiring Tunstall on sixteen pitches.  One player reached base after getting hit by a curve ball, but he never made it past 1B.  
In the top of the 7th, Verniel led off with his second hit of the night, a single to left field.  Hinson was then HBP, to give the Bruins two base runners with no outs.  After a strike out, a ground out advanced both runners one base to 3B and 2B respectively.  However, Tomlinson struck out the next batter to end the inning and the game.  
Starter Jake Verniel pitched 4 2/3 innings, scattering four hits, striking out four and walking three batters. Morgan McCoy pitched one and 1/3 innings in relief. He did not allow a hit or a run, and struck out one batter. He did not walk any batters.  
Offensively, the Bruins were led by Jake Verniel at the plate, going 2/3.  Ethan Goforth and Jake Schirmer each had one hit, going 1/4.  
The two teams were remarkably identical to each other.  Both started left handed sophomores.  Both starters pitched 4 2/3 innings.  Neither pitcher gave up an earned run.  Both relief pitchers immediately got the last out of the 5th inning and neither gave up an earned run.  Verniel had four strike outs and three walks, while Wade had four walks and three strike outs  Both teams had four hits and four errors.  The difference was on the scoreboard; Tunstall 4, Blacksburg 2.  
With the loss, the Bruins finish the season at 14-10, almost identical to their 15-8 record last year.  The Bruins have made the regional tournament two years in a row; the first since a three year stretch from 2007-2009.  

Tag(s): BHS Varsity