Grayson, Hill bounce back

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The Blue Devil lefty was solid down the stretch as Grayson County overcame a 4-1 deficit to win the Conference 39 title.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE –– Whether it’s a bicycle or a horse, it’s always best for one to get back on as soon as possible after having been thrown off.


A pitching mound is no different.

A week after being knocked off the bump in Grayson County’s regular season finale, Koby Hill climbed back on Friday in the top of the fourth inning with his team trailing Marion in the Conference 39 title game. Hill had worked an uneventful inning in the Blue Devils’ semifinal win over Richlands, but this was different than the 10-0 lead he inherited then. With Grayson behind 4-1 after three innings, Hill silenced the Scarlet Hurricane the rest of the way while the Blue Devil bats – Hill’s included – battled back for a 7-4 win.

The victory solidified a home date in this week’s Region 2A West tournament, in which Grayson County (16-4) will host Wise Central on Monday (today) at 5 p.m.

“Coach [Van] Harris talked about this to the team after the game,” Grayson coach Mike Worrell said. “That is the great thing about sports. A week ago, where was Koby Hill? He lost that lead to Glenvar and he was just as down as he could be. But he comes back today in a much bigger game and just shuts them down. He did exactly what we needed.”

And did so both offensively and defensively. Aided by a shaky Marion defense, the Blue Devils put together back-to-back three-run innings to take control over a 9-9 Hurricane team that has apparently risen above some serious early-season tumult.

Hill’s fourth-inning single drove in Luke Wilson, who had led off with a double. Marion still held a 4-2 lead when a grounder that would have produced the third out resulted in a dropped throw at first base, keeping the inning alive for Isaac Osborne. The Blue Devils’ No. 9 hitter came through with a single to left-center to score Hill, after which William Vaughan, the benefactor of the error at first base, scored on a wild pitch to knot the score at 4.

“We can’t control what they do in the field, but we do have some control over what we do with the chances we get,” Worrell said. “Isaac was the big one. They made the error, we’re all juiced and he drove a nail in it right there.”

A potential double play ball was mishandled in the fifth, helping Grayson put together its game-winning rally. Max Rodgers’ sacrifice fly brought in the go-ahead run, and Hill – who was 2-for-2 with three RBIs – followed with a two-run single for a 7-4 lead.

Marion coach Adam Burchett still felt good about his team’s chances after the score was tied in the fourth, but the Hurricanes could do little against Hill, who faced but one real threat over the final four innings.

“We just didn’t hit [Hill],” Burchett said.

Hill’s one jam was a brief one. Hunter Lefler roped a one-out double to center in the top of the fifth and Grayson elected to intentionally walk Sam Wagner, a move that paid off when shortstop Matt Cornett gobbled up a ground ball to initiate an inning-ending double play.

Hill was almost knocked off the mound in the seventh – literally – when a screaming liner off the bat of Eric Garrison nearly tore his glove off, but resulted in a putout by second baseman Ty Cannaday, the last in a string of stellar plays by Grayson’s middle infield.

“Billy Wells says that with no walks and no errors, for a team to score one run an inning it takes 21 singles,” Worrell said of Glenvar’s coach. “We played defense and the one walk was intentional, and I was proud of that.”

Burchett took over as interim coach five games into the season when Marion’s former coach was dismissed. He will lead the Hurricanes into the quarterfinals Tuesday at Virginia High.

“We haven’t done anything special,” he said. “Make routine plays, be aggressive at the plate, we tell them that every game and we’ll tell them that again Monday. It’s nothing I’ve done, the guys have just matured along the way and it’s been neat to be a part of it and watch these guys come along.”

Nor were the Blue Devils at ease until after Hill sealed the win with his 1-2-3 seventh.

“That’s a resilient bunch,” Worrell said of Marion. “With what they’ve overcome, their record is no indication of the team they’ve got. They’re athletic, they’re smart and they play hard. They were scary, is what they were.”


Marion......................022  000  0––4  8  3

Grayson County......010  330  x––7  7  0


Wagner and Lefler. Lundy, Hill (4) and Vaughan. W – Hill. L – Wagner. 2B – Lefler (M), Lawrence, Wilson, Ma.Cornett (GC).