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With the tying run on third and one out, the senior pitcher strikeouts out the last two Nandua batters.
JEANNINE COOPER | Special to The Roanoke Times
Glenvar’s Tyler Crockett rounds third base against Nandua in the Highlanders’ win. Glenvar will face Wilson Memorial on Sunday.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
RADFORD — Important news for Glenvar High School students who have church plans or were counting on a leisurely wakeupSunday morning: The Highlanders have a baseball game to play.
The Highlanders’ nine will need some support when they take to the field at Radford University to play for the Group A Division 2 baseball title at the unfamiliar first pitch hour of 10 a.m.
Glenvar earned its shot at the crown with a nerve-racking 4-3 victory over Nandua on Saturday that wasn’t secure until Tyler Crockett booked the most important save of his career by striking out the last two Warriors batters with the tying run on third base.
Austin Duncan, freshman big game pitcher, had worked an outstanding 6 1⁄3 innings to get the Highlanders to that point. But after a walk then a one-out run scoring triple by No. 9 hitter Noah Zember, Glenvar coach Billy Wells didn’t deliberate long before choosing to summon Crockett from shortstop to finish up.
Duncan understood the move and supported the decision after limiting the Eastern Shore team to six hits.
“I knew it was for the best,” Duncan said. “I was leaving my fastball right down the middle of the plate. That was the right move to make the change.”
Crockett, one of three seniors for Glenvar, had been in tight spots before but not with a trip to the championship looming. One out, man on third, and the leadoff and No. 2 hitter coming up — that’s a cure for a slow pulse rate.
“Definitely, my heart was beating a little bit out there, but I wanted the ball,” he said.
Crockett blew away Derek Bjorio, who swung at a strike three pitch that was up and out of the strike zone. Ryan Haynie was next, and he struck out too.
Glenvar (15-9) will play Wilson Memorial, a 6-1 winner over Grayson County, to settle things once and for all. Wilson Memorial has won state in 1990, 1980 and 1977. Glenvar won its only crown in 1994 and was runner-up in 2003 and 1993.
For Nandua, six hours away by car, it’s been another long, heartbreaking trip. The Warriors (22-2) were here last year, losing 6-1 to Chilhowie in the semifinals. Two-loss Chilhowie was the team Glenvar beat in the Region C semifinals to qualify for the state tournament.
“We stay confident,” Crockett said. “We think we’re the best team out there. We were very well prepared. We’re playing hot baseball right now. We’re tough to beat. I’ll put us against anybody else.”
Hot they are, winners of seven in a row and nine of 10. The key this time, as it often is in high school ball, was to get off to a good start. The Highlanders brought 19 guys to the plate to score four runs in the first three innings. Three of the Warriors’ four errors helped, three walks and RBIs by Tyler DeHart, Chace Wilson, Crockett and Duncan took care of the rest.
“Walks and errors at the beginning killed us,” Nandua coach Luke Brankley said. “The pitcher kept us off balance the first two times through the order. Then we had the tying run 90 feet away with one out and just couldn’t put the ball in play.”
Duncan pitched a peach of a game, but he also was on base all four times he came up, reaching by walk, hit, error and fielder’s choice. Catcher DeHart went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored and gunned the speedy Bjorio trying to steal second.
Nandua catcher Hunter Taylor, who started on the mound, has committed to South Carolina as an underclassman. Austin Heenan is committed to VMI next year as a pitcher.
“Our guys have been battling like crazy,” Wells said. “They’re putting the ball in play. The ball isn’t always sharply hit, but we’re making them field the ball. We’re not striking out much.
“To me, that’s key in high school: Put the ball in play.”
That and lay off the snooze button on the alarm clock when it rings first thing this morning.
Nandua 000 002 1 – 3 6 4
Glenvar 121 000 x – 4 7 0
Taylor, Haynie (2) and Guy. Duncan, Crockett (7) and DeHart. W – Duncan. L – Haynie. S – Crockett.
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