After three innings, Blue Ridge was more than pleased that they were within a run of the lead against Covenant, the top ranked team in the VIC.
“We’re rebuilding this year and after three innings we were right where we wanted to be,” said Barons coach Chris Cunningham. “They’re the number one team in the conference and we are not. But we gave it our all.”
Up just a run, the Eagles flexed their muscle in the fourth inning to change the tone of the game, piling up 14 runs on one hit after another. After another spree in the top of the fifth, Covenant coasted to a 21-2 victory to keep it’s unblemished conference record in tact and move to within a game of wrapping up VIC regular season play.
In the two innings stretch where Covenant scored 19 runs, the seven, eight and nine hitters in Ethan Taylor, Bryan Pollard and Brady Doyle had a combined seven RBI and nine runs scored and reach base safely in nine of ten plate appearances.
“We’ve been wanting the bottom of the order to pick things up a bit and that was a big encouragement that they got things started for us,” Smethurst said. “We’ve got a lot of good hitters. I was real pleased with out at bats today. We caught up to hard throwing.”
After the heart of the order worked its way on base to start the fifth, Taylor got the scoring started on a 2-run double. In the next at bat, Pollard brought home two more runs on a single. And it was a turnstile of batters and runs after that with Doyle connecting on an RBI single. Sam Patterson brought in two more runs on a 2-run double. Lee Coppock picked up an RBI single. In his second at-bat of the inning, Pollard grabbed his third RBI on a single through the infield.
“Brady and I have been calling ourselves the ‘8-9 punch’ — we’re working on a better nickname,” Pollard said. “We’ve been hitting a lot better the last few games so right now we’re just trying to put the bat on the ball and stay away from curveballs.”
To cap off the big inning the top of the order padded its stats, first with an RBI single from Jesse Getchel, then a 2-run double from Sean Rutherford.
The sixth saw five more Covenant runs, but thanks to walks and errors more than hits. Three runners were walked in while Henry Pollard and Jordan Hendrick each came up with RBI singles.
That was more than enough offense for starting pitcher Bryan Pollard to pick up the win. In his first three innings of work, Pollard retired all but two of the first 11 batters he faced. The starter went four innings and finished with five strike outs and just two hits.
“We have a great defense so I’m just trying to hit my spots,” Pollard said. “If I can get my curveball over the plate, hit those spots and limit my walks we should be able to put out a pretty low number out the board.”
Blue Ridge’s Zach Roberts and Will Moss accounted for the teams two hits. Roberts led off the fourth with a double and Moss brought him home quickly on an RBI single in the next at bat.
“I think there’s a lot that we can take out of this,” Cunningham said. “We told them not to hang their heads. Going into the fourth that’s a 2-1 ball game against the best team we’ve faced.”
For the Eagles, Getchel finished 3 for 4 with three runs scored. Clark Crutchfield was 2 for 3 with two runs scored. Coppock was 1 for 1 with three runs scored. Patterson was 1 for 3 with three RBI. Taylor was 1 for 3 with three runs scored and two RBI. Pollard went 2 for 2 with three RBI and four runs scored. Doyle was 2 for 3 with three runs and two RBI.
Covenant (14-3, 10-0) hosts Richmond Homeschool today at 4:30 p.m.
Blue Ridge (4-5, 2-5) hosts North Cross on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.