By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — At first glance, a score of 25-6 suggests that the Watauga District Middle School Boys and Shelby-based Pinnacle Classical Academy played football on May 5. They didn’t. Rather, Watauga ran away in a baseball win with effective early pitching by Daniel Jones, strong hitting performances by J J Everett, Bryce Scheffler, Miller Hankins and Chase Gillin, as well as timely baserunning by a quintet of Wolverines, including Jones, Scheffler, Chase Watts, Noah Blevins and Brandon Vest.
Although Watauga starting pitcher Stacy Eggers V struck out three Pinnacle batters and only allowed one hit in the first inning, a pair of walks and a throwing error by Jones on a hard hit ball to third base helped the visitors plate two runs to open the scoring.
The host Wolverines countered with four runs in the bottom half of the frame, Jones leading off with a single, stealing second base, then alertly advancing to third on a passed ball.
Although the Pinnacle pitcher looked to have good stuff and threw with velocity, he had a hard time finding the strike zone. After Hankins walked, then stole second without a throw attempt as the catcher was holding Jones on third, Everett’s line drive to center brought home both of the Watauga baserunners to tie the game.
But the Wolverines weren’t quite done with their first inning effort. Everett, who had advanced to second on the throw home after his single, was able to claim third base on yet another passed ball. Although Hunter Townsend followed up with a ground out to second base, he was credited with an RBI when Everett trotted across home plate from third.
Shortstop Scheffler had a clear path around the bases when he entered the batter’s box in the bottom of the first. He ripped a sharp single through the infield on the left side and was standing on first base when teammate Chase Gillin stepped to the plate. The Wolverines’ catcher tattooed another ground ball through infield gap on the left side, with Scheffler advancing to third, then scoring the Wolverines’ final run of the inning on an error by the Pinnacle second baseman when pinch runner Brandon Vest stole second.
If there was any defensive consolation for the visiting Eagles in the first inning, it was an alert double play when Watauga rightfielder Chase Watts smashed a line drive that was fielded smoothly by the PCA third baseman before getting another out by catching the advancing runner from first for an inning-ending double play.
After issuing four consecutive walks to open the top half of the second inning, forcing a Pinnacle runner home for the Eagles’ third run of the game, Eggers was pulled from the mound and positioned at first base. After starting the game at third base, Jones stepped onto to the pitcher’s rubber and Townsend moved from his opening first base position to take Jones’ spot at third base.
Under bases loaded pressure, Jones responded with two consecutive strikeouts and forcing a ground out to quell the Pinnacle threat.
Leading 4-3, Watauga all but decided the outcome in the bottom half of the second, scoring seven runs to take an 11-3 lead. The Pinnacle pitcher couldn’t find the strike zone for the first two batters, walking both and seeing Noah Blevins steal second, putting him in scoring position. With runners on first and second, Hankins chopped a grounder to the first baseman, then beat the throw for an infield single. That loaded the bases for Everett, who took advantage of the opportunity with a 3-run triple through the right field gap, to the fence.
The Pinnacle hurler’s control problems continued, with Townsend receiving a walk before Scheffler lofted an easy fly ball to right. What should have been the first out of the inning wasn’t when the right fielder misplayed the popup., allowing Everett to score and Scheffler to take first base.
The score had grown to 8-3 and the Wolverines were far from done as Gillin ripped a single to center, scoring Scheffler and Townsend. Another single by Eggers put runners at the corners with pinch runner Vest stopping at third, but that was only temporary when Watts grounded into the inning’s first out on a fielder’s choice decision that allowed Vest to score while forcing out Eggers at second.
Watauga concluded the second inning of offensive work sporting an 11-3 lead. Jones continued his near flawless performance on the mound in the top of the third, Watauga taking advantage of a strikeout and ground out before getting a nice defensive play by Watts on a grounder hit to right field.
The Wolverines “only” scored three runs in the bottom of the third, which was matched by Pinnacle in the top of the 4th inning. For Watauga, a highlight of the inning might well have been catcher Jaxon Stanbery’s throw that caught a Pinnacle runner trying to steal second in the top of the fourth. Two batters later, Stanbery whipped a throw to third, picking off another Pinnacle runner for the third out of the inning.
The bottom of the fourth was a disaster for the visitors from Shelby. Watauga was issued five walks and rapped five singles and two doubles before Pinnacle was able to get a first out. All in all, the Wolverines scored 11 runs in bottom of the 4th inning, then Devin Shook came on to pitch the top of the 5th and blanked the Eagles while recording three strikeouts vs. two walks.
Final Score: Watauga 25, Pinnacle 6
WATAUGA’S KEY PERFORMERS
- WAT – J J Everett: 3-3, 2 runs scored, 5 RBIs, 3B
- WAY – Miller Hankins: 2-2, 2 runs scored, 1 walk
- WAT – Daniel Jones: 1-2, 2 runs scored, 1 walk, winning pitcher
- WAT – Bryce Scheffler: 2-3, 3 runs scored, 1 RBI, SB
- WAT – Chase Gillin: 3-3, 2 RBIs