18th title something special

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Grayson County was able to breathe easy at the end of an MED game, topping Fort 9-3.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

 INDEPENDENCE -- Under normal circumstances, a win by Grayson County in the Mountain Empire District baseball tournament championship game doesn’t produce a tremendous amount of exuberance. That happens when a team has won 17 of them in a row. Circumstances surrounding 18th one, a 9-3 win over Fort Chiswell on Thursday, were far from normal.


With MED baseball staging its most competitive season in years, season champ Grayson County lost a district game for the first time since 2004 and had five district wins by a total of six runs. This title meant more than most.

“We’ve been in the state finals a couple of times, and we’ve won some region championships, and they were all special,” said Grayson County coach Mike Worrell, “but this one is as good as any of those. This group of kids had to flat out work to win.”

Unable to fully take advantage of a shaky Fort Chiswell defense early on, more work was in order as Grayson County (12-7) found itself mired in a 3-3 tie at the game’s midway point. But Jessup Lambert sent a sky-high, two-run homer just over the leftfield fence to spark a five-run fourth inning, and the Blue Devils cruised the rest of the way.

Tyler Rutherford followed Lambert’s blast with a triple, scoring on Cody Underwood’s base hit, and Brent Graham laced a two-run single for an 8-3 lead after four.

Grayson County capped the scoring in the bottom of the sixth when, with the bases loaded, Richard Pugh intentionally got in a rundown between second and third, allowing Ethan Hash to sneak home for a 9-3 lead.

Jared Sells breezed through a 1-2-3 seventh to finish off the complete game. The senior righty allowed six hits, one earned run and struck out six, walking one.

He was given some breathing room early as the Devils took a 3-0 lead after two. Richard Pugh’s infield hit drove in Lambert, and Brent Graham fouled off several pitches before lining an RBI double into left-center for a 2-0 lead.

Jared Salts led off the bottom of the second with a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off five straight two-strike offerings before singling up the middle. He later scored on a throwing error on a comebacker to Fort starting pitcher Tyler Akers.

“Those were two awfully good at-bats,” Worrell said. “When a pitcher is out there working hard and throwing good pitches to get ahead, and the batter fouls one off and fouls one off and you finally give up a hit, it’s got to be disheartening.”

But the Pioneers got the break they needed in the top of the third. Ty Kirby drove in Fort’s first run with a single and Hody Viars singled with two outs. A ground ball for the third out was misplayed at first base, and Drew White followed with a game-tying, two-run single.

Sells allowed four hits in the inning and just two the rest of the way. He retired the Pioneers in order in five of seven innings.

Grayson County hosts Patrick Henry-Glade Spring at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Region C first round while Fort Chiswell travels to Hogoheegee District champion Chilhowie. Glenvar-Covington and James River-Radford are the other first-round games.


Fort Chiswell                                                        Grayson County

                               ab        r           h          bi                                     ab        r           h          bi

Poole rf                 4          0          1          0          Lambert ss         4          2          2          2

Viars 2b                3          1          1          0          Rutherfrd 3b       4          1          2          0

Gallimore 1b       2          0          0          0          CUndrwd 1b       4          1          1          1

White ss               3          0          1          2          DeBord dh          3          1          0          0

Akers 3b              3          0          0          0              Sells p              0          0          0          0 JUndrwd c           3          0          0          0             Hash pr             0          1          0          0

Dunford p            3          0          1          0          Pugh rf                  4          1          2          1

Mabe cf                3          1          1          0          Graham c             3          0          2          3

Kirby 1b               2          0          1          1          Hill lf                       3          0          1          0

    Spence pr       0          1          0          0          Salts 2b                3          1          1          0     Ayers lf             1          0          0          0          Osborne cf           2          1          2          0                                                                                    Blizzard ph        1          0          0          0 Totals   27        3          6          3                      31        9          13        7   Fort Chiswell                003      000      0––3    6    3 Grayson County           210      501      x––9    13   1  

E – White 2, Akers, C.Underwood. HR – Lambert, 4th, one on. 3B – Rutherford. 2B – Graham. SB – Mabe, Pugh, Viars, Hash 2. CS – Hash, Dunford, Pugh. LOB – Fort Chiswell 4, Grayson County 6.

  Fort Chiswell       ip         r           er         h          k          bb Akers (L)               4          8          5          11        4          0 Dunford                 2          1          1          2          2          2 Grayson County Sells (W)               7          3          1          6          6          1   Wp – Dunford. Pb – J.Underwood.