By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
The bats of the Tazewell Bulldogs started to gain power about the time half of their outfield lights were losing theirs on Friday evening.
Tazewell scored five runs in a bizarre sixth inning to end a four-game losing streak and put away county rival Richlands 9-5 at Lou Peery Field.
“We needed that,” Tazewell head coach Aaron Buchanan said. “That was a big win for us.”
The Bulldogs (9-6) won their third straight this season against the Blue Tornado (4-12), which twice cut their deficit in the game to a single run.
Richlands head coach Adam Davis said, “Our kids never laid down.”
Buchanan agreed. “They’re going to fight hard,” he said about Richlands. “Coach Davis is doing a great job with them. They’re learning the game the way it should be played.”
Lucas Parsons pitched into the sixth inning for the Bulldogs, and was 2 for 2 at bat with a stolen base and two runs batted in. He scored twice.
“Lucas set the tone for us,” Buchanan said. “He did a great job; he battled for us. That’s all we can ask of him, to battle, to give the team a good opportunity.”
Tyler Myers almost mirrored Parsons’ effort, with a 2 for 2 night that included a run scored and the game’s first RBI, on a single past shortstop in the second inning. Myers took over for Parsons on the mound in the sixth, and struck out four Blues swinging in his 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Richlands fought back from a 3-0 hole in the fourth inning despite being down two outs after a bang-bang double play by Tazewell cut down a runner at the plate and retired the batter heading for first.
The Blue Tornado loaded the bases again, and Dylan Laforce forced across a run when he was hit by a pitch. Austin Carter then drew a walk to produce a 3-2 score.
In five trips to home plate, Laforce was hit four times and walked during the other.
The Bulldogs gained a run in their half of the fourth, generated when Richlands starting pitcher River Michaels began the frame by throwing 10 straight pitches for balls. Parsons drew the bases-loaded walk that made the score 4-2, where it remained until the sixth.
Richlands center fielder Patrick Jackson hustled to grab a sinking fly ball for the final out of the inning.
Parsons walked three batters in the sixth inning, and turned the mound over to Myers with the bases loaded and one out.
A wild pitch brought Richlands’ Trent Davis home to create another one-run deficit, but Myers recovered to induce a popout and retire the side on a strikeout.
The first four Tazewell batters got on base in the bottom of the sixth, and all of them scored. The first two runs came on a triple to left-center by Todd Mulkey that got past a valiant effort by Jackson, who was shaken up on the play and left the game.
Mulkey said, “I went up there confident. ... I knew it was hit in the gap. I was thinking two (bases) but when I saw it go by him, it was three all the way.”
Parsons brought Mulkey home with a shot up the middle of the infield.
“It was important to have some insurance,” Mulkey said.
Michaels said, “I came out and knew it was a big game. It (the sixth) was just a long inning. ... I threw the pitches that we called. They just didn’t all get across the plate. That’s baseball.”
In the middle of the home team’s offensive surge, the outfield floodlights on the right side of the diamond went dark, producing a 17-minute delay.
When play resumed, Colin Hancock scrambled for his second bunt single of the contest, and a throwing error on the play by new pitcher Jay Harrison allowed Parsons to score. Brett Jones made the score 9-3 with a double to right field after Brody Dean had singled.
Richlands pushed across the final runs in the seventh. J.T. Anderson wrapped up a 2-for-3 night with a single and Chase Collins followed with a run-scoring triple to left-center. Down to their last out, Collins came home on a wild pitch, but the mini-rally ended there.
Davis took solace in the play of freshmen Collins, Laforce and Peyton Simmons. He then credited his veterans. “These older guys got us back in the game, but we just fell short," he said
Tazewell’s Luke Robinson said, “Tyler (Myers) came in and threw strikes. That’s what we needed to finish the game.”
“I just knew we needed to have confidence and play Tazewell Bulldogs baseball.”
Buchanan said, “I felt like (during the power outage) we stayed loose, stayed confident. This is a different breed of kids. They stayed loose, they stayed up for most of the game.”
Both teams are scheduled to be back in action at 7 p.m. Monday. The Bulldogs will host Virginia High at Lou Peery Field while the Blue Tornado is to travel to Abingdon.
“This gives us some big momentum with five games left in the (regular) season,” Buchanan said.
— Contact Tom Bone at firstname.lastname@example.org
At Lou Peery Field
Richlands.............000 201 2 — 5 5 3
Tazewell...............012 105 x — 9 10 3
River Michaels, Jay Harrison (6) and Dylan Laforce. Lucas Parsons, Tyler Myers (6) and Chase Illig, Nick Elkins (4). WP - Parsons. LP - Michaels. HR - none.