Watauga beats Foard in seventh inning
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Much of the reason why Watauga's top summer baseball team is together in the first place is to gain experience that can be used during the 2014 Northwestern Conference season.
The Pioneers experienced what it's like to rally to win a close game in the last inning. Watauga rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to beat Fred T. Foard 6-5 in the first round of the summer league tournament that features several teams that play in the NWC.
Watauga (11-1-1), which lost its first game of the summer season one night earlier to second-place Bunker Hill, found itself behind 5-1 in the sixth inning and 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Carson Isaacs delivered a game-winning sacrifice fly to right field, which drove in Jeffrey Gainey to ice the victory.
The Pioneers had to play without standout players Hunter Isaacs and Utah Jones, who were playing with the prestigious under-16 travel team The Dirtbags.
Five of the first six Watauga batters reached base in the seventh inning that started with a walk to Tyler Nigro and a double by Avery product Ty Polsgrove. Nigro scored on a Gainey single and Polsgrove scored on an Adam Greene, which tied the game 5-5.
Neither team scored in the first three innings after Watauga's Matt Lambert and Foard's Nolan Whitener were locked in a pitching duel. Foard look like it scored enough runs by the sixth inning when Harry Hatcher, who struck out two times to Lambert, belted a two-run home run to put the Tigers in front 5-1.
Lambert gave up six hits, but none in the first three innings. He struck out 11 in the six innings he pitched.
Nigro took over in the seventh inning and gave up a two-out single to Zander Toy, who finished with three of Foard's seven hits. Toy did not get past first base on Nigro, who got Chris Mays to fly out to left field to end the inning.
Whitener also went six innings for Foard. He pitched to Nigro and Polsgrove in the seventh before being replaced.
Whitener scattered six hits and struck out two. The Pioneers broke through for their first run in the fourth inning when Andy Critcher doubled and stole third when Whitener pitched from the windup instead of the stretch.
Whitener's pitch got past Toy behind the plate and Critcher scored on the wild pitch.
Watauga also scored two runs in the sixth inning when Jesse Illich singled and scored on an error after a Carson Isaacs single. Clay Mizner's sacrifice fly drove in Isaacs to pull the Pioneers to within 5-3.
Watauga split a doubleheader with Bunker Hill by winning the first game 7-4, but lost the second game 6-5. Both games were played in five innings.
Watauga needed to win the first game to insure its league championship. Bunker Hill, which finished second in the league, finished 11-3.
The Pioneers fell behind 4-0 in the first half of the first inning, but Jones settled down and did not allow a run the first of the game. Bunker Hill collected three of its six hits in the first inning.
Jones struck out three and walked one. He also hit a batter.
Watauga rallied for three runs in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI double by Jones, an RBI single by Hunter Isaacs and an RBI double by Mizner. Watauga added two runs with an RBI double by Isaacs and an unearned run off a ball hit by Lambert.
Matt Tyndall drove in a run with a triple and scored a run in the fourth.