HAYSI, Va. —
It was like old times for Haysi and Honaker, locked in a game that was tight from start to finish.
Unfortunately for Haysi it was like more recent times for Honaker in the end.
Behind the pitching of Austin Ray the Honaker Tigers remained undefeated with a 3-1 Crooked Road Conference win over the Haysi Tigers Tuesday night at John Flannagan Dam.
Ray tossed a five-hitter, struck out 13 and didn't walk a single batter in besting Haysi's Drake Howell in a classic pitcher's duel.
"Ray was a pitcher tonight, not a thrower. It made a big difference," said Honaker coach Tom Harding, whose club has not lost to its longtime Black Diamond District rival since the end of the 2005 season. "He struck out 13 people and no walks, that's what I like."
Howell allowed six hits, fanned five and walked just three batters. The junior righthander didn't allow an earned run until the seventh, when Honaker picked up a big insurance run. Jacob Mitchell doubled and scored on an RBI single to right-center by Avin Parrott.
"That was the best Drake's pitched," Haysi coach Dewayne Stanley said. "I was afraid that last run might have been too much to overcome the way Ray pitched. He threw the ball well.
"Honaker just takes advantage of any mistakes really well. It's the same thing they've done all year."
Honaker (9-0, 3-0) scored two unearned runs in the third after Mitchell reached on an error with one out. Derek Gilbert tripled home courtesy runner Matthew Hutchinson and scored on an RBI ground out off the bat of Makenzie Phillips.
Haysi (6-2, 3-2) scored an unearned run in the fifth. Gentry Shreve led off the inning with a double and scored on a two-out error by the visiting Tigers.
"Haysi's always been good," Ray said. "Even though we were missing a couple of people out there the team's still strong and nobody gets down on each other."
Honaker played without ailing shortstop Hunter Lester and lost second baseman Gilbert to an apparent hip injury during the game.
Ray struck out two batters in every inning except the second. He relied heavily on his curve ball, especially at the end when Haysi got a pair of hits to put the tying runs on base in the seventh.
"They were catching up to the fastball, they'd been setting on it and I wanted to change it up," added Ray, who was able to place his curve on both corners of the plate all game.
"My curveball's my best pitch. A lot of times I'll drop it down low to the side and it works like a slider approach. A lot of times I'll keep it up and get it (to break down) 12 to six."
Jalen Sykes led off the Haysi seventh with a single to center before Ray struck out two straight hitters. Sykes reached third on a two-out single by Tyler Mullins, but Ray induced a 4-3 groundout to end the game.
'I thought we played as well as we can play," said Stanley, whose program won its share of BDD titles before Honaker claimed the last eight. "I think we adjusted and we hit the ball hard there late in the game, but it wasn't enough."
It was, perhaps, Honaker's toughest win so far this season. The Tigers came in having outscored their first eight opponents by a combined 80 runs to 10. "It's always tough when we come up here," Harding said. "It never fails.
“I don't care how good they are or how bad they are, or how good or how bad we are, it's a tough one."
Parrott finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk.
Honaker...........................002 000 1 — 3 6 2
Haysi................................000 010 0 — 1 5 4
Ray and Mitchell. Howell and Sykes. W-Ray (6-0). L-Howell (2-2). HR-none.