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Thanks to a quirky schedule and plain ole March weather, it has taken Carroll County five weeks to get its baseball season started. The Cavaliers are still waiting to get going.
Galax rode a strong pitching effort from Jacob Stuart and took advantage of a string of Carroll County breakdowns Monday to register a 9-4 win in a nondistrict game at Felts Park.
“It helped us a little bit that they haven’t played any games yet but I thought my guys came out and played well,” Galax coach Bobby Parnell said. “The leaders of the team stepped up and played well.”
Galax scratched out at least a run in all six of its turns at bat and pulled away from a 5-4 lead by scoring the game’s final four runs, starting with a single run in the bottom of the fourth. Chandler Quesenberry reached on a fielder’s choice and stood on second via a Cavalier throwing error when Stew Merdian laced a two-out single down the right field line.
The three runs Galax scored in the fifth and sixth innings came courtesy of just two singles during that same time span, though neither was a run-producing hit. Three walks and a wild throw on a tailor-made double play ball brought two runs across for Galax in the fifth. Two-out singles by Alex Zipprich and Daniel Larrowe put runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and Zipprich scored on a double steal for the final five-run margin.
“Could you tell that it was our first ballgame?” Carroll County coach Joe Tompkins asked, rhetorically. “But then it didn’t much look like we’ve been practicing for five straight weeks, either. We’ve got a lot of new faces out there and it showed. We made some rookie mistakes. But we’ll get better. We just need to play some games.”
Stuart allowed a leadoff single and issued a one-out walk in the top of the seventh before capping his complete-game win with a fly-out to center and a comebacker. The freshman right-hander allowed two earned runs on seven hits, striking out eight and walking three. Parnell said he had no qualms about sending Stuart back out in the top of the seventh.
“I asked him in the fifth how he was feeling,” Parnell said. “I think he was at 70-some [pitches] in the fifth and he said he felt great. I think he ended up around 107, but he said he felt great so I let him keep throwing.”
Carroll County loaded the bases with none out in the top of the first but got just one run out of the threat with a Kenley Meredith sacrifice fly. Cavalier starting pitcher Reece Edwards struck out four in the first inning but uncorked three wild pitches, including one on a two-out strikeout that allowed Larrowe to score.
Galax took the lead for good in the home half of the second on a bases-loaded walk and an RBI ground-out by Stuart.
The Maroon Tide connected with back-to-back RBI singles from Chase Garvey and Zipprich in the third.
Edwards was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle for Carroll County, mashing two Stuart offerings to the same spot in center. His first drive trickled under the fence for a ground-rule double in the top of the second, preventing Trace Davis from scoring from first, though Davis later scored on a squeeze bunt by Seth Burris.
Two innings later Edwards drilled a triple to the same spot, knocking in Davis and later scoring on a passed ball to pull the Cavaliers to within a 5-4 count.
Edwards and Davis combined for five of Carroll’s seven hits while Zipprich, batting in the No. 9 spot for Galax, went 3-for-3 with three runs scored.
The win over a 4A foe will be a valuable one in the Conference 46 points standings, but the day may have been of greater value for what it could mean to a team that had struggled through a 1-4 start.
“Just to get a win does a lot,” said Parnell. “It does a ton for us. We had Jacob Stuart out there and he threw the ball well for us I thought, and we hit the ball well tonight. As a team I thought we played well.”
Carroll County...101 200 0––4 7 4
Galax..................122 121 x––9 8 1
Edwards, Taylor (3), Webb (4), Davis (5), Meredith (6) and Puckett. Stuart and Spurlin. W – Stuart. L – Edwards. 3B – Edwards. 2B – Edwards.