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Knights ride long ball past Cavs

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Mull's second home run of the day broke a 3-3 tie and sent Carroll to an 8-7 Region IV defeat.

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 ROANOKE -- Cave Spring’s baseball team was in a tight spot Monday against Carroll County.

How would the Knights find a solution? All they had to do was Mull it over.

Center fielder Carter Mull’s second home run — a tie-breaking, three-run blast in the sixth inning — proved to be the game-winning hit as Cave Spring edged visiting Carroll County 8-7 in the first round of the Region IV tournament.

Mull’s shot off Carroll County’s third pitcher of the day cleared the left-field fence and put the Knights up 8-5.

“I knew he was maybe going to try to get ahead so I was looking for a fastball on the first pitch,” Mull said. “He threw it inside so I just pulled it.”

Cave Spring (12-9) punched its ticket into Tuesday’s quarterfinal at Tunstall one-half inning later, but it was far from easy.

The top of the seventh inning featured three Carroll County hits, a walk, an error, a spectacular rainbow and a driving rainstorm. After the Cavaliers (11-13) drew within a run on Blake Bowman’s two-out, RBI single, Cave Spring second baseman Kris Diones squinted through raindrops to catch a popup by dangerous leadoff man Jordan Lamb.

Visibility was minimal.

“It was hard,” Mull said. “Me and the left fielder were talking that whole time. We couldn’t even see the batter. We were just trying to tell each other what was happening.”

Cave Spring coach David Dunstan was wondering the same thing after he watched Carroll County put up five runs in the third inning for a 5-3 lead.

The Cavaliers touched freshman starter Graham Harkey for five hits in the inning, including RBI singles by Adam Crotts and Bowman, and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Reavis.

Meanwhile, Crotts was holding Cave Spring at bay on the mound after relieving starter Alex Ousley, who failed to retire any of the three batters he faced in the first inning as Luke Feldenzer led off with a single, followed by Steven Koll’s triple and Mull’s first homer.

“We swung the bats early, but then we got complacent and waited around,” Dunstan said. “But we’ve done that all year.”

Koll pitched a complete game Friday in Cave Spring’s River Ridge District tournament win over Salem. Dunstan was not going to use Koll on Monday for several reasons. Luke Munson pitched four innings for the win.

“We were looking to save [Koll], but it’s just one of those things,” Dunstan said. “You can’t rely on one person. When it’s the next guy’s turn, it’s the next guy’s turn. We’re young on the [mound] and we’re trying to instill that in those guys.”

The Knights finally reached Crotts for an unearned run in the fifth as Eric Gladfelter’s sacrifice fly cut the deficit to 5-4. Ted Lyle’s RBI single in the seventh tied the game and set the stage for Mull’s second home run.

“Adam did a great job in there but he just got tired,” Carroll County coach Joe Tompkins said.

Crotts finished 4-for-4, while Brandon Atwood had three hits for Carroll County.