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Fort Chiswell and Galax both entered the Mountain Empire District portion of their schedules hoping to have a say in the final district standings. After Wednesday, both will have to do so the hard way.
The Pioneers, who opened district play with a 1-0 loss to Grayson County last week, left the Maroon Tide in an early hole after taking an 11-1 win in blustery Felts Park.
“I told the guys, we want to win every game, but this one game isn’t going to make or break the season,” said Galax coach Ronald Mankins. “We still control a lot of things and we’ve still got a lot of district games left. They’re going to have another tight game with Grayson, so one game isn’t going to be the difference in anything.”
The difference in this one was Fort Chiswell’s ability to take advantage of its chances and Galax’s failure to do the same, especially early on. The Pioneers scratched out single runs in each of the first three innings and ruined a couple of decent Tide scoring opportunities while the outcome was still up for grabs.
Galax had two runners on base with less than two outs in two of the first three innings, coming up empty both times. The Pioneers broke loose with four runs in each the fourth and sixth innings to put the game away. Fort’s Cody Poole legged out a double to put runners at second and third with none out in the fourth, and Hody Viars lofted a sacrifice fly to start the Pioneers’ first big inning. Drew White singled to drive in Poole and Tyler Akers later smacked a two-out, two-run double into right-center, pushing the lead to 7-0 after four innings.
“Seemed like every time they got a walk with two outs or got a runner with two outs and got them in scoring position they made the most of the opportunity,” Mankins said. “That’s just a credit to them, putting the ball in play.”
A four-run sixth ended any Galax hopes. A walk and a Drew White double set up Mark Gallimore, who singled to drive in a run. A run-scoring groundout preceded a two-run single by Jake Underwood before the Tide turned a double play to get out of the inning down 11-0.
Galax finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Tyler Houk doubled to right-center and scored on consecutive booted grounders, but it was too little, too late.
The Tide’s best chances came in the second and third. A pair of one-out walks were overcome by consecutive strikeouts by Pioneer lefthander Blake Musick in the second. Eddie Hanks and Jacob Woodel lined back-to-back singles to start off the third, but a double play and a fly-out ended that threat.
“Seemed like every time we got a runner on they made a big play,” said Mankins. “They had a couple of double plays when we could have chipped away with a couple of runs and made a run at them. But that’s the way the ball bounces. They took advantage of their opportunities and we didn’t.”
Fort Chiswell scored just once despite three walks and a single in the first. Parker Mabe lifted a wind-blown home run to right to lead off the second, and Michael Dunford had a two-out RBI single in the third for a 3-0 Pioneer lead.
Akers and White paced Fort Chiswell offensively. White was 4-for-4 while Akers was 1-for-3 with four RBIs. Musick went the distance, allowing three hits.
Fort Chiswell Galax
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Viars ss 2 1 0 1 Woodel c 2 0 1 0
White 3b 4 3 4 1 Cockrhm ph 1 0 0 0
Gallimore 1b 3 1 1 1 Houk 3b 2 1 1 0
Musick p 1 0 0 0 Nichols 2b 2 0 0 0
Ayers cr 0 1 0 0 Robinson cf 3 0 0 0
Akers 2b 3 2 1 4 Cox dh 3 0 0 0
Underwood c 3 0 1 2 Cummngs p 0 0 0 0
Dunford cf 3 0 1 1 Bond rf 2 0 0 0
Mabe rf 2 2 1 1 Garvey 1b 1 0 0 0
Poole lf 3 1 1 0 Alouf p 1 0 0 0
Schaeffer lf 0 0 0 0
Hanks ss 2 0 1 0
Totals 24 11 10 11 20 1 3 0
Fort Chiswell 111 404––11 10 2
Galax 000 001–– 1 3 1
E – Nichols, Viars, White. DP – Fort Chiswell 2 (6U-3; 4-6-3), Galax 2 (F8-4; 4-3-2). HR – Mabe (FC) 2nd, none on. 2B – Poole, Akers, White, Houk. Sac. – Viars. SB – White 2. CS – Dunford. LOB – Fort Chiswell 5, Galax 4.
Fort Chiswell ip r er h k bb
Musick (W) 6 1 0 3 3 3
Alouf (L) 5+ 8 8 7 4 8
Cummings 1 3 3 3 0 1
Wp – Musick, Alouf 2, Cummings.