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Four Titans pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout, while the Knights
were hurt by errors.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Thursday’s postseason trip to Salem ended much better for Hidden Valley baseball coach Jason Taylor and senior shortstop Nic Ratliff than the last time the Titans faced Cave Spring at Kiwanis Field.
Taylor and Ratliff were ejected from last year’s loss to the Knights in the Region IV final — after the game.
This time, the only fireworks came inside the seven innings as Ratliff drove in a pair of runs to spark Hidden Valley to a 6-0 victory over Cave Spring in a River Ridge District tournament semifinal.
The Titans (17-4) will face either Blacksburg or Christiansburg in the championship game. Blacksburg led Christiansburg 2-0 in the second inning Thursday night when the second semifinal was rained out.
The semifinal has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. today with the third-place game at 4 p.m., if Blacksburg wins. If Christiansburg wins the semifinal, the Blue Demons would join regular-season champ Hidden Valley and Blacksburg in the Region IV tournament and no third-place game would be needed.
The championship game also is scheduled for today. The game time is contingent on whether a third-place game is necessary.
Ratliff will play at Kiwanis one more time regardless.
Last May, he was tossed out for tossing his bat after the final out in the rain-delayed region final against Cave Spring, and Taylor also was sent packing by the umpire when he argued on behalf of his player.
Both had to sit out the Titans’ season-ending loss at Brookville in the Group AA quarterfinals.
Ratliff admitted to a brief flashback when he walked into Kiwanis on Thursday after the game was rained out Wednesday.
“I thought about it a few times,” Ratliff said. “Having the rain delay yesterday … I was a little worried about it. It was in the back of my mind.”
Ratliff gave Hidden Valley a 1-0 lead in the first inning with an RBI-groundout that scored Jack Moore, who had singled with one out. Ratliff added an RBI-single in the fourth when the Titans padded a 3-0 lead with three more runs.
Sixth-place hitter Ben Schmidt had two hits and an RBI as the bottom four hitters in Hidden Valley’s lineup — Schmidt, Troy Paplomatas, Jonathan Richmond and Matt Scribner — combined for five hits.
“Three are seniors that’s been fighting for positions all year,” Taylor said. “We’ve got 25 kids on our roster pushing each other. If they continue that, we’ll be pretty good next week.”
Four Hidden Valley pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout. Starter Avery Pierce pitched two innings, followed by Ryan Lauria for three, and Jack Henry and Luke Marston for one apiece.
Pierce (6-0) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning. Lauria, a Louisville signee, allowed no hits in his stint. Taylor said either pitcher can be considered the Titans’ ace.
“Avery’s lost one ballgame in two years for us,” Taylor said. “We think both of those are both ‘1s.’ ”
Hidden Valley committed just one error and turned one double play.
“Our last practices we’ve been focusing on defense a little bit more, trying to put them in position based on who’s pitching,” Taylor said “ Ben Schmidt at third base probably saved a couple of runs.”
Meanwhile, Cave Spring helped Hidden Valley’s cause by committing six errors, three by shortstop Terrell Simmons, leading to four unearned runs off starter Clayton Benton. Simmons and the Knights hope to rebound.
“You’ve got to,” Cave Spring coach Ricky Lonker said. “That’s life. You have a bad day at work you can’t quit. You’ve got to come back.”
Lonker obviously is hoping for a Blacksburg victory over Christiansburg today that would allow the Knights a shot at the Blue Demons for a chance to earn a berth in the region.
“I’ll see if we’ve got nine lives or not,” the first-year Cave Spring coach said. “Getting out of the district is the hard part. If we can just get there, we’ve got a shot at the region.”
Cave Spring 000 000 0 — 0 3 6
Hidden Valley 101 130 x — 6 9 1
Benton, Huffman and McIlwraith; Pierce, Lauria (3), Henry (6), Marston (7) and Bolinger. W – Pierce (6-0). L – Benton.
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