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The Highlanders snap a five-game losing streak as the home team in the Group A quarterfinals.
John Wimmer | Special to The Roanoke Times
Glenvars Tyler Crockett slides home safely as Gate City’s John Brooks awaits the throw Tuesday. The Highlanders won 8-1 to advance to the state semifinals Friday.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Glenvar’s baseball team had lost five consecutive Group A quarterfinal games in which it was the home team.
Included were games at the high school field, Calfee Park in Pulaski and Kiwanis Field in Salem.
Glenvar returned to Kiwanis on Tuesday, but this time the result was different as the Highlanders posted an 8-1 victory over Gate City.
Glenvar, which lost seven of its first nine games to open the 2013 season, will take a 14-9 record against Nandua into a state semifinal Friday at Radford University.
“This is our eighth time in 10 years in the state,” Glenvar coach Billy Wells said. “We had the bugaboo of not winning that first-round game. We lost a couple at Glenvar, one here, one at Calfee so we’ve run out of places to play to try to break that streak.
“I think these kids would play at Green Hill Park right now if they needed to, they’re feeling so good about themselves.”
Why not? Glenvar won the Three Rivers District and Region C Division 2 tournaments and was facing a Gate City team that won just three regular-season games.
However, the Blue Devils (7-20) ousted heavily favored Virginia High from the Region D tournament thanks to a four-run first inning, and they took a 1-0 lead Tuesday with an unearned run in the first inning.
Glenvar starter Tyler Crockett limited the damage by escaping a bases-loaded situation.
Crockett and relievers Zach Duncan and Austin Fox combined on a two-hitter as Gate City advanced just one man past first base the rest of the game.
“We had the same scenario, bases loaded,” Gate City coach Robbie Perry said of the Virginia High game. “Tonight we just didn’t get that hit. My hat’s off to [Glenvar]. I wish them good luck.”
Glenvar took a 2-1 lead in first inning against Gate City freshman starter Chandler Pendleton. The Highlanders got the runs thanks to successive two-out hits by Fox, Duncan, Josh Watts and Tyler DeHart.
Fox put Glenvar up 3-1 in the third with a leadoff home run, his first of the season and just the third of the year for the team.
The ball bounced off the top of the left-field wall and fell on the other side.
“When I was rounding [first base], I saw it hit the very top,” Fox said. “It felt amazing.”
Glenvar put the game away with a five-run sixth inning as Logan Waldron, Alston Lucas and Duncan had key hits.
Seven Highlanders combined for the team’s 10 hits.
“We started off the season slow,” Fox said. “It didn’t matter who they threw. We were kind of in a slump. From the second half of the regular season, we started hitting everybody.”
Duncan relieved Crockett in the fourth inning with a 3-1 lead after the Glenvar senior had walked five batters. Duncan gave up just one hit in his three innings, yielding to Fox in the seventh.
“We wanted to split it up if we got a big enough lead,” Crockett said. “Unfortunately, I was struggling. Coach asked me if I had faith in Duncan. I said, ‘Heck, yeah. Go ahead and put him in.’
“Tonight I just couldn’t find the zone. There’s no excuse for it.”
Wells has the full use of his pitching staff Friday against Nandua, which has a pitcher who has signed with VMI and a junior catcher who already has committed to South Carolina. Nandua eliminated defending state champion William Monroe on Tuesday.
All-Region C pitcher Kevin Steele will be available.
The semifinal is scheduled for 10 a.m., but it might be moved to accommodate Glenvar’s 9 a.m. graduation.
“We’re confident as ever right now,” Crockett said. “We’re not going to get overconfident, but we’re happy with the way we’re playing and we’re having fun. We’re playing hot baseball at the right time.”
Gate City 100 000 0 — 1 2 3
Glenvar 201 005 x — 8 10 2
Pendleton, Brooks (7) and Starnes; Crockett, Duncan (4), Fox (7) and DeHart. W – Crockett. L – Pendleton. HR – Fox (G) 3rd, none on.
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