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HILLSVILLE –– After rapping three hits, including a grand slam, and facing two batters more than the minimum after a shaky first inning, Carroll County pitcher Eden Durnil didn’t get to finish off Bassett.
But Durnil the shortstop did.
Just having been relieved by Gracie Davidson after the Bengals put three seventh-inning runs on the board, Durnil triggered a 6-4-3 double play on Davidson’s only pitch of the game as the Cavaliers held on for the 12-7 win in the Region IV play-in game Monday at CCHS.
“Things happen for a reason,” said Carroll County coach Rick Nester. “We sat over here and talked about it and coach [Cindy] Edwards said one pitch and we could be out of this. It doesn’t happen very often when you talk about something like that, but it did that time. One pitch and the thing was over.”
Durnil had just returned to the mound in the seventh after clubbing a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 12-4 lead, but the Bengals (11-11) used a leadoff walk, two singles and a double to push three runs across with one out.
The day couldn’t have started any worse for Durnil and the Cavaliers (16-6) as Bassett coupled three hits with two errors to jump on the home team for four runs in the top of the first. But the Cavaliers couldn’t have come up with a better response, answering Bassett’s four with four of their own. Autumn Hill doubled in a run, two more crossed on a booted grounder and Davidson’s two-out single evened the score at 4-4.
From there, the Cavaliers took off. Durnil tossed 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, giving up a pair of hits in the third.
“That was an awesome performance,” Nester said. “After the first inning they didn’t threaten again until the last inning. I though she got a little bit tired at that point. She’d thrown a lot of pitches…I felt like she got stronger every inning that she threw.”
Ragan Halsey’s RBI double in the second put Carroll on top to stay and Cheyenne Strickland launched a solo homer in the third, the seventh of the year for the sophomore leftfielder.
Strickland doubled home a run in the fourth and Davidson followed with a sacrifice fly for an 8-4 lead before Durnil’s big fly gave the Cavs a nine-run cushion in the sixth.
Halsey finished the day 4-for-5, Durnil went 3-for-5 while Hill, Strickland and Davidson provided two hits each in the Cavaliers’ 15-hit attack.
Carroll County traveled to Patrick County for a quarterfinal game Tuesday, with the winner facing either Salem or Tazewell in Wednesday’s semifinals, also in Stuart.