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HILLSVILLE –– In need of a strong finish in what will be a busy final week of the season, there was no better time for Carroll County to put together its first winning streak of the year.
Beginning a run of six games in their final seven available playing dates, the Cavaliers got off to a great start Saturday by posting shutout wins at Bill Worrell Field over Grayson County (1-0) and Galax (5-0).
Both games were five-inning affairs.
After struggling to finish tight ballgames through the first two months of the season and entering Saturday with three wins, Carroll County (5-11) nearly doubled its win total by coming out on top in a pair of well-pitched and well-defended victories.
In the opener, the Cavaliers managed just two hits off of Grayson County sophomore left-hander Koby Hill, but it was one more than was necessary as Taylor Canning’s solo home run accounted for all the scoring done by either team. Leading off the bottom of the second, Canning drove a 1-0 offering to the rightfield side of center, near the deepest part of the park.
Hill was almost untouchable other than Canning’s blast, allowing just three other Cavalier baserunners. One was caught stealing, Hill picked another off at first and Reece Edwards was stranded after doubling to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Hill limited Carroll County to just 12 official at-bats, striking out five and walking two.
Seth Burris, Kenley Meredith and B.J. Utt teamed up for a four-hit shutout for Carroll County. Matthew Cornett had two of the hits, both of them singles. The Blue Devils’ best scoring opportunity came in the top of the fifth when Will Circle drew a two-out walk and moved to third on Cornett’s base hit, but Utt got a fly ball to center to leave both runners stranded, picking up his first save of the season.
The loss dropped Grayson County to 12-3-1, with all three losses coming by a single run.
In the second game, Cavalier starting pitcher Chris Marshall blanked Galax through three innings, leaving with a 3-0 lead, and Carroll County pulled away for the 5-0 win.
Marshall retired the first seven Maroon Tide batters that he faced, a string that ended with a one-out throwing error in the third. Marshall stranded two Galax runners in the third. The Tide got its only base hit, a Bryant Cox infield single, in the top of the fourth. Trace Davis and Ethan Webb each pitched one scoreless inning for Carroll County.
Davis led off the bottom of the first with a triple to the gap in right-center, scoring on Reece Edwards’ sacrifice fly for all the offense the Cavaliers would need.
Carroll County added two runs’ worth of insurance in each the third and fourth innings. Brandt Puckett and Edwards walked, and Daniel Bowman singled to the right side to drive in Puckett. Edwards later scored on a double steal for a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth, Bronson Bowman led off with a single and, following two strikeouts, Noah Johnson’s base hit put runners on the corners. Davis knocked in Bowman with a single and Johnson trotted home on a Maroon Tide error.
Webb worked a 1-2-3 fifth for the Cavaliers, bringing to an end Galax’s string of four straight wins.
Carroll County 5, Galax 0
Galax.....................000 00––0 1 2
Carroll County......102 2x––5 5 1
Stuart, Pack (3), Spurlin (4) and Quesenberry. Marshall, Davis (4), Webb (5) and EAdwards. W – Marshall. L – Stuart. Sv – Webb. 3B – Davis (CC).
Carroll County 1, Grayson County 0
Grayson County......000 00––0 4 0
Carroll County.........010 0x––1 2 0
Hill and Vaughan. Burris, Meredith (2), Utt (4) and Edwards. W – Meredith. L – Hill. Sv – Utt. HR – Canning (CC) 2nd, none on. 2B – Edwards (CC).