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WARDELL –– Partial-strength was stout enough for Carroll County.
Seemingly unaffected by the final effects of last week’s brouhaha at Tazewell, Carroll County dealt quite ably with the absence of one-third of its lineup for Monday’s game at Richlands, jumping on the Blue Tornado early and breezing to a 7-1 Southwest District win at Southwest Virginia Community College.
“I think we’re all just glad that this whole thing is behind us now,” said Carroll County coach Joe Tompkins, whose entire team, as well as Tazewell’s, was suspended for one game following last Tuesday’s dust-up at Lou Peery Field. The Cavaliers had four players, including three starters, suspended for Monday as well.
“It was an unfortunate thing, we took our punishment, and we just want to go back to thinking about baseball again,” Tompkins said.
It didn’t seem to take long for that to happen.
The Cavaliers jumped on Richlands for two runs in the top of the first inning and led 6-0 after two.
“That’s the best thing that could have happened today,” Tompkins said. “We came out swinging the bats and we got a big lead early, which is always a good thing.”
Ryan Gravley and Isaac Sumner led off the game with a bloop single and a bunt for a hit, respectively. Cavalier starting pitcher Garrett Nelson gave himself a quick lead with a sharply-hit RBI single to left, and Jordan Worrell followed with a bouncer under the shortstop’s glove to score Sumner for a 2-0 lead.
Carroll County unloaded in the second inning, coupling four hits with a walk and two Richlands errors for four more runs. Sumner looped a single over short to knock in Josh Underwood, who had led off the inning with a walk. Nelson laced a two-run single into left-center and a fourth run scored on a throwing error.
Carroll County capped its scoring in the top of the third when Sumner singled with two out and scored on Brandon Lineberry’s double to deep left-center.
The Cavaliers got all their runs on the board before Richlands had its first baserunner. Nelson retired the first eight batters he faced before No. 9 hitter Chad Lester’s flare into shallow right fell in for a single with two down in the bottom of the third.
Nelson got out of a bases-loaded mess in the fourth and gave up his only run in the fifth when Lester led off with a double, scoring on Josh Compton’s base hit.
“Garrett made them put it in play, and we played good defense behind him,” Tompkins said. “They hit some shots at us but we made the plays.”
Nelson allowed the one earned run on eight hits, striking out seven and walking none. The Cavaliers played error-free defense behind him.
Sumner was 3-for-4 with three runs scored while Gravley and Nelson had two hits apiece. Nelson also drove in three runs.