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INDEPENDENCE -- Despite dropping a pair of regular season meetings with Fort Chiswell by a combined margin of 19 runs, Galax knew it was capable of playing on even terms with the Pioneers. That they did, until the final pitch of the game.
Mark Gallimore’s sacrifice fly plated Hody Viars with the winning run with none out in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday as Fort Chiswell ended Galax’s season with a 4-3 decision in the Mountain Empire District semifinals at the GNB Baseball Complex.
With the game tied 3-3, Viars led off the bottom of the seventh by drawing a walk. Mark Gallimore worked the count long enough for Viars to steal second and reach third via a wild pitch before allimore flipped a high fly ball to medium centerfield, deep enough for Viars to score the winning run without a play at the plate.
Fort Chiswell’s win, coupled with season champion Grayson County’s triumph in the day’s second semifinal, automatically advances the Pioneers into next week’s Region C tournament regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s tournament championship game.
Galax jumped on Pioneer starter Mark Gallimore for two runs in the top of the first. Jacob Woodel led off the game with a single up the middle and scored on Zach Robinson’s two-out double to left-center. Robinson took third on the throw to the plate and scored when Brock Cox slapped a single into right for a quick 2-0 lead.
As suddenly as the lead had come, though, it evaporated. Fort Chiswell answered with three runs in the bottom of the first off of Galax starter Scott Alouf. A pair of one-out walks set the table for Drew White, whose single to right drove in Viars with the Pioneers’ first run. Tyler Akers followed with an RBI single to left, and the ball was misplayed in the outfield, allowing White to score the go-ahead run for a 3-2 Fort Chiswell lead after one.
Galax would register 10 hits against Gallimore but was unable to string together a rally. The Tide left two runners stranded in each the second and third innings, but eventually caught the Pioneers in the top of the fifth when Woodel led off the frame with a solo shot just over the fence down the leftfield line.
Galax had the makings of a rally in the sixth and seventh but couldn’t manufacture the much-needed run. Michael Bond’s leadoff single in the sixth went for naught, and a shoestring catch in centerfield by Michael Dunford on a dying line drive resulted in a double play in the seventh.
Every player but one registered at least one hit for Galax, including three by Woodel in the leadoff spot. The one Tide batter held hitless more than did his job otherwise. Alouf limited the Pioneers to four singles, striking out four in taking the tough-luck loss.
Gallimore went the distance on the mound for Fort Chiswell. Galax Fort Chiswell ab r h bi ab r h bi
Woodel c 4 2 3 1 Poole lf 4 0 0 0
Houk rf 4 0 1 0 Viars 2b 1 2 1 0
Nichols 2b 3 0 1 0 Gallimore p 2 0 0 1
Robinson cf 3 1 1 1 Smith cr 0 1 0 0
Cox 3b 3 0 1 1 White ss 2 1 1 1
Bond lf 3 0 1 0 Akers 3b 3 0 1 1
Cockerham dh 3 0 1 0 Underwood c 3 0 0 0
Garvey 1b 0 0 0 0 Dunford cf 3 0 1 0
Alouf p 3 0 0 0 Mabe rf 3 0 0 0
Hanks ss 3 0 1 0 Ayers dh
Kirby 1b 0 0 0 0 Totals 29 3 10 3 24 4 4 3 Galax 200 010 0––3 10 3 Fort Chiswell 300 000 1––4 4 0
E – Bond, Cox 2. DP – Fort Chiswell 1 (L-8-4). HR – Woodel (G) 5th, none on. 2B – Robinson. Sac. – Gallimore. SB – Viars 2, Nichols 2, Akers, Houk. LOB – Galax 6, Fort Chiswell 8.
Galax ip r er h k bb Alouf (L) 6+ 4 3 4 4 5 Fort Chiswell Gallimore (W) 7 3 3 10 5 1 Wp – Alouf 2, Gallimore 2. None out in bottom of seventh when winning run scored.