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The first time through the Mountain Empire District portion of its baseball schedule wasn’t exactly kind to Galax. The Maroon Tide is finding the back end of the series much more to its liking.
For the second day in a row Galax avenged an earlier loss to an MED foe, this time jumping out to an eight-run lead and holding on down the stretch to claim an 8-4 win over Fort Chiswell Wednesday at Felts Park.
The Maroon Tide brought its record to the .500 mark (8-8) with the win, which came a week after having dropped a 9-4 decision in Max Meadows. Galax did almost all of its damage in a marathon second-inning rally that saw the Tide rack up seven runs on seven hits, including four for extra bases.
“It’s been pretty awesome, our guys are starting to hit the ball, and late in the year, it’s a real good time for us to start hitting it,” said Maroon Tide coach Bobby Parnell. “We were able to do it against [Levi] Mooney, who is probably their ace. Our guys are starting to get real confident.”
Having broken a scoreless tie when Caleb Spurlin singled and later scored on a throwing error, the Galax hit parade began when Chandler Quesenberry launched a two-run homer to left field for a 3-0 lead.
Mooney recorded two quick outs, but three straight extra-base hits chased the Pioneer right-hander after just an inning and one-third. Jacob Stuart drove a double to deep center field to score Daniel Larrowe, and Bryant Cox followed with an opposite-field two-base hit to the right field corner to bring home Stuart.
Alex Zipprich legged out a triple to straightaway center, scoring courtesy runner Jake Snyder and ending Mooney’s day on the mound.
Spurlin came back around and connected for his second base hit of the inning when he lobbed a soft single into shallow center to knock in Zipprich for a 7-0 Maroon Tide lead.
Stuart, Galax’s starting pitcher, allowed a single baserunner in each of the first three innings, with no harm done. The freshman righty benefited from a double play in the top of the third, and Fort Chiswell came up empty in the fourth after getting its first two batters on base with no outs.
The Maroon Tide widened its lead to 8-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Chandler Quesenberry reached on a dropped third strike and scored on a Larrowe base hit, one of three straight Galax singles that loaded the bases with none out. Galax was in prime position to end the affair after five innings with its No. 3 and 4 hitters coming up, but Bryson Booher took the mound in relief of Seth Dalton and got two pop-ups to end the threat.
The Maroon Tide maintained its shutout when a relay throw after a base hit to center caught Mooney trying to score, but the Pioneers finally got on the board when Patrick Biedelman doubled to left-center, scoring Lane Edmonds and Chase Rathbone.
That ended the day for Stuart after five and one-thirds innings. The freshman gave up three runs on five hits, striking out six and walking four before giving way to Stew Merdian with one out in the sixth.
“Jacob looked real good today,” Parnell said. “He actually had a hangnail out there and was bleeding a little bit but he’s battled for us all year and has thrown real well, and as long as he does that we’ll ride him.
Biedleman stole third and scored when the throw sailed past the uncovered base, but Merdian got out of the inning with no further damage, getting a ground-out and a fly ball to end the threat with Galax still leading 8-3.
Tyler Porter launched a no-doubt home run into the tennis courts in the top of the seventh to cut the gap to 8-4, but Merdian ended the afternoon with a ground ball and a strikeout.
“Nothing’s safe,” Parnell said. “We’ve had our fair share of bad innings but these guys stood up and just kept playing hard.”
In addition to picking up the mound win, Stuart went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Maroon Tide’s 15-hit attack. Cox had two doubles in four at-bats while Spurlin, Merdian and Chase Garvey added two hits apiece. Mooney had two of Fort Chiswell’s seven hits and Biedleman drove in a pair of runs.
Fort Chiswell......000 003 1––4 7 1
Galax...................070 010 x––8 15 3
Mooney, Dalton (2), Booher (5) and Rathbone. Stuart, Merdian (6) and Quesenberry. W – Stuart. L – Mooney. HR – Quesenberry (Gx) 2nd, one on; Porter (FC) 7th, none on. 3B – Zipprich. 2B – Biedleman, Booher, Edmonds, Cox 2, Stuart.