Alexander Central edges Watauga
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
TAYLORSVILLE -- Watauga is no stranger to one-run losses. The Pioneers suffered another one Friday in a different way.
One game after blowing a six-run lead, Watauga rallied only to see Alexander Central claim a 3-2 victory on the final play of the game.
Alexander Central (8-0, 3-0 NWC) got two walks from Watauga starter Ryder Jones, but Jones struck out the next two Cougars to face Alexander Central standout shortstop Josh McClain with runners on second and third.
McClain hit a sharp ground ball to Watauga third baseman Carson Isaacs, who could not field the ball cleanly. Brandon Lail, pinch-running for pitcher Luke Watts, scored from third base.
Watauga (1-5, 1-2), which has lost four games by one run, tied the game 2-2 in the top of the seventh when Isaacs reached base on an error, and went to second on a Jesse Illich bunt.
Isaacs scored when Chance Richards' fly ball down the left field line landed fair before Alexander Central left fielder Trevor Cook could get to it.
Utah Jones scored Watauga's other run after reaching base with a double. Clay Mizner drove in Jones with a single one batter later.
Watauga struggled to catch up to Alexander Central starter Tad Ratliff, who struck out six and gave up four hits. Ratliff retired the first nine Pioneers he faced until Tyler Jones opened the fourth inning with a single.
Ryder Jones gave up a run in the first inning after McClain, hitting leadoff, hit the first pitch Jones threw him into the outfield for a double. McClain scored on a sacrifice fly by Riley Smith.
Jones settle down and struck out the next four batters he faced. Alexander Central did not score again until the fourth inning when a Ratliff double drove in Mickey Sinclair. Jones set down six straight batters in the fifth and sixth innings to allow the Pioneers the chance to catch up and tie the game.
Jones finished with 12 strikeouts. He struck out each Alexander Central batter at least once.
Alexander Central settled for five hits off Jones, including three of them in the fourth inning.
Watauga plays at Mount Tabor on Saturday since the game was moved to the Winston-Salem school because of an unplayable field at Watauga. The Pioneers are also scheduled to play rival South Caldwell Tuesday at home, but that game could also be moved off the mountain if Watauga's field is not ready.