Devils drop opener to Knights

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A slew of early errors put Grayson in a hole and darkness interrupted a potential late comeback.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE -- Officially, the best part of Grayson County’s day never happened. The Blue Devils’ season opener will go in the books as an 8-1 loss, but darkness interfered with what was shaping up to be a pretty good finish Friday as Coeburn held a five-run lead in the bottom of the seventh with the bases full of Blue Devils before the game was called due to darkness. Coeburn scored three runs in both the first and fourth innings against a shaky Grayson County defense and dealt the Blue Devils a season-opening loss Friday at Grayson National Bank Park. Grayson County was mounting a challenge, cutting the lead to 8-3 with the tying run in the on-deck circle before the game was called. A bobbled grounder and then an off-line pickoff attempt had Nick Perkins at second base in the home seventh, and Taylor Hiatt doubled to deep right-center, driving in Perkins. Following a Tyler Rutherford single, Hiatt scored on a wild pitch, and Jared Salts was drilled in the back, chasing Blue Knights reliever Barry Meade. Following a strikeout, Coeburn’s Cody Mickels plunked Spencer Roberts on the helmet, prompting plate umpire John Wayne Martin to immediately end the game. Unfortunately for Grayson County, none of that mattered. Not officially, anyway. Coeburn took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first and never was seriously threatened, winning its opener after just three days of outdoor practice. An error and a walk set up the rough start for Grayson County as Knights catcher Jon Dean drilled a three-run homer to left, putting Coeburn on top to stay. The Blue Devils, also stuck inside for most of the preseason, were able to cut into the lead in their first turn at-bat when Tyler Rutherford led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Brent Graham’s single to left. The Blue Knights made up the run in the second on two more Grayson errors and an RBI ground-out by Hunter Bond, then added a run in the third on a ground-out by Darren Greear. Coeburn starting pitcher Andrew Pate retired six of seven Grayson County batters after the first inning, and the Knights added three runs to their lead in the fourth, including their third run-producing ground ball out. Pate looped a single over a drawn-in infield and Dean tripled to right-center, each driving in a run. Pate worked out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth. After giving up a one-out double to Hiatt and a single to Rutherford, the lanky right-hander got a strikeout and a grounder to get out of the inning with the seven-run lead. Barry Meade worked a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth for Coeburn. Dean was a double shy of the cycle for the Knights, going 3-for-4  with four RBIs.  Pate allowed just three Grayson County hits, walking two and striking out nine, including four called third strikes. Grayson County hosts Ashe County, N.C. on Wednesday and completes the home-and-home with Coeburn on Thursday.   Coeburn..................311  300––8  6  1 Grayson County......100  000––1  3  4   Pate, Meade (6) and Dean. Perkins, Leonard (3), Salts (5) and Graham, Rudy (5). WP – Pate. LP – Perkins. HR – Dean (C) 1st, two on. 3B – Dean (C). 2B – Hiatt (GC).