BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Take away the fourth inning and it was a 1-1 tie. Add the fourth and the mercy rule forced the game to end after five.
The Galax Maroon Tide rolled past Graham, scoring 13 runs on eight hits in a marathon fourth inning, defeating the G-Men 14-1 on a windy Friday evening at Sizemore Field.
Galax was on the opposite end of a similar game just last week.
“That is how it happens,” Galax head coach Bobby Parnell said. “We had a game like that last week at Pulaski. They beat us 18-5 and I think we walked 14, hit two batters and four errors, 23 bases, you don’t win the games like that.’
Graham (0-5-1), which lost 16-2 to Giles on Thursday, started out just fine, trailing 1-0 after three innings.
“They are good, we know they are a solid team,” Graham head coach Matt Dixon said. “We talked about that, the effort wasn’t very good against Giles yesterday. We had a long conversation, and the effort was there.
“We can’t let those big innings like the fourth inning snowball on us.”
This was more like an avalanche. Galax (4-5) collected eight hits, drew six walks and took advantage of several miscues in the field to break open what had been a close game.
“The kid that started off, he threw well against us,” Parnell said. “I thought for a little while we were going to have a lot of trouble. The guys stayed in there and starting hitting the ball and being patient and that is what paid off for us.”
Logan Kirk had allowed just one hit and an unearned run through the opening three frames before the Maroon Tide started hitting the ball, sending 17 batters to the plate and forcing Graham to use four pitchers to get to the fifth.
Galax had two runners on and one out in the fourth when the next 11 batters reached base. With both the coaches and Galax fans encouraging the Maroon Tide to remain patient at the plate, that is just what they did.
“That is something we preach,” Parnell said. “We have tough kids that like to get out there free-swinging, but we try to preach to be patient.”
Caleb Pack, who started and pitched the first two innings for Galax, had the biggest hit of the frame, a single to score two runs. Chase Garvey, Daniel Larrowe, Caleb Spurlin, Chandler Quesenberry and Alex Zipperich all had RBI singles. Three other runners scored on bases-loaded walks.
None of the hits were blasts, but the Maroon Tide effectively blooped and lined hits to various parts of the field.
“With these new bats they are going to be bloop hits, that is part of it,” Dixon said. “You have got to learn to battle from that and stay strong and don’t get your head down and we did a poor job of that.”
Pack threw two innings of shutout baseball for the Maroon Tide, with Stewart Meridan working the next two frames. Spurlin pitched the fifth, allowing three hits and Graham’s lone run.
“We were pretty pleased with (the pitchers),” Parnell said. “Here lately we have actually been struggling throwing strikes, I was proud of them just going out there today and just working on throwing strikes.
“I try to tell them we have got eight guys behind you, throw strikes and let’s play a little defense.”
Graham did that early on, but certainly not in the fourth.
“You have got to be consistent and make routine plays,” Dixon said. “We have got guys that will make plays one minute and the next minute an easier play they should have made. We are missing a guy here today that would make us a little stronger in the field.”
There were others plays, while not recorded as errors, that may have been if Dixon had a say in the subject.
“There are a couple of things that don’t go down as errors in the book that we think are errors,” Dixon said, “the balls that people don’t get to that they should.”
Graham finished with six hits, just three less than the Maroon Tide, led by Blake Boone, who had the G-Men’s first hit with a single in the third, and later had an RBI double in the fifth to score their lone run to score Jacob Simpson, who had singled and move up on wild pitches.
“Their pitchers did a nice job keeping us off-balanced,” Dixon said. “We have got to learn to manufacture runs, hit and run, moving people over.
“We did a little bit of that there late in the game there, but we have got to do it throughout the whole game.”
Pack and Garvey had two hits each for Galax, while Pack and Spurlin had two RBIs apiece. All nine batters scored at least one run in the fourth inning alone, and six of nine hitters drew a walk in the game.
Galax’s four captains, Larrowe, Pack, Quesenberry and Brian Cox were certainly leaders, combining for six runs, five hits and five RBIs.
“Our expectations are to get better each and every day,” Parnell said. “I think they can lead us as far as we want to go, but it is up to our captains.”
Graham, which did receive a double from Jacob Coffey, will play three games next week, all on the road, against Marion, Narrows and Tazewell.
“We are going to finalize on a lineup, this is only our fifth game, and we have had to do some work inside. It is hard to make it against good pitching inside,” Dixon said. “We are going to finalize on something this weekend.
“We have got three games, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. We are going to get better the second half of the season.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Sizemore Field
Galax.............................001 (13)0 — 14 9 1
Graham.........................000 01 — 1 6 4
Caleb Pack, Stewart Meridan (3), Caleb Spurlin (5) and Spurlin, Chandler Quesenberry (5). Logan Kirk, McKinley Webb (4), Tommy Lovell (4), Jacob Simpson (4) and Blake Boone. W—Meridan; L—Webb. HR—none. �