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Originally published: 2014-04-27 23:33:29
Last modified: 2014-04-27 23:34:14

Watauga captures tournament title

by Staff Reports

TARBORO -- Watauga's baseball team looked like it had to settle for second place in the Tarboro Easter Classic Friday Saturday.


The Pioneers trailed Southampton Academy (Va.) by six runs in the last inning. Watauga's offense had produced 24 runs in its first two games of the tournament, but struggled against Southampton pitchers Jordan Holland and Andrew Love, who came on in relief.


That all changed in the bottom of the seventh inning. Watauga's Clay Mizner belted a two-run single that capped a seven-run rally and lifted the Pioneers to an improbable 8-7 victory.


Watauga (10-11) became the first team from the western North Carolina to win the tournament, which was founded in 1994. It was also the first Easter tournament a Hardee-coached team has won since 1996.


The rally answered a five-run Southampton Academy rally staged in the top of the seventh inning. It gave the Raiders (18-2) a 7-1 lead.


Watauga didn't allow it to last. The hit cemented the tournament's Most Valuable Player award for Mizner, who was 3-for-3 from the plate. Mizner drove in Hunter Isaacs from second base, who beat the throw from Southampton left fielder Nate Williams.


Williams' throw was online and on time, but catcher Matt Rose dropped the ball while applying the tag to Isaacs.


Watauga started the rally by loading the bases. Jesse Illich, who was named to the all-tournament team, drove in a run with a single. Justin Greer walked to force in another run, bringing the Pioneers to 7-3.


The hitting continued. Carson Isaacs hit a two-run single and Hunter Isaacs added his own RBI single to bring the Pioneers to 7-6.


Mizner went next with his game-winner. By the time the Pioneers were finished, they had sent 11 batters to the plate.


Hunter Isaacs started for the Pioneers and pitched into the seventh inning. Matt Lambert finished the game on the mound.


But it would be Jeffrey Gainey, who picked up the third out on the mound, who got the win. He improved to 1-1.


Hunter Isaacs and Lambert were also named to the all-tournament team.


Watauga plays at Northwestern Conference play Tuesday at Hickory.