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INDEPENDENCE –– There are probably worse ways to see a season come to an end. Grayson County players would have been hard-pressed to come up with one Tuesday.
Mother Nature robbed the Blue Devils of their final two at-bats, and Floyd County claimed a rare region tournament win in baseball, holding off Grayson 4-0 in five innings in a rain-shortened Region C Division 2 game at GNB Park.
Skies opened up with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and following lengthy delay, officials finally called the game at around 7:20 p.m.
“It’s kind of an empty feeling when you finish this way,” said Grayson County coach Mike Worrell. “We had our chances. Their pitcher did a good job. He had three pitches, and guys we’ve had here in the past who have been successful, if they’re not overpowering, they’re three-pitch guys, and their guy was today. If you follow a curveball with a changeup, it’s pretty tough to hit.”
Floyd County (13-8), making its first region appearance in 11 years, did all its damage in the top of the second. With the bases loaded and one out, Gus Underwood’s fly-out to center was deep enough to score Brandon Gearhart before the Buffaloes got a pair of clutch two-out hits for some insurance. Dustin Faulkner shot a grounder through the hole into left to drive in a run, and Vinny Kuckenbuch singled to the same spot, scoring two for a 4-0 lead.
The rally started with a pair of bloop singles into right.
“We’ve been working really hard the last few weeks, trying to stay on pitches and drive them up the middle or go the opposite way,” said Floyd coach Daniel Quesenberry. “It’s really helped us.”
Buffaloes starting pitcher Ryan Lewis limited Grayson to one base hit in each of the first three innings before running into trouble in the fifth when the Devils loaded the bases on singles by Daniel Crawford, Landon Frost and Lucas Rudy. Facing the heart of the Devil order, Lewis got out of the mess with a pop-up and a ground ball.
“He was fantastic,” Quesenberry said of Lewis. “He threw three pitches for strikes, and when he’s on, it gives us a chance to beat just about anybody.”
The loss ended a string of eight straight wins and was just the third in the last 17 games for the Blue Devils (14-8).
“I can’t express how proud I am of them,” Worrell said. “We started 0-5 and very easily could have packed it in. They never quit and things picked up.”