By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The James Monroe Mavericks rallied behind a freshman pitcher and advanced to the championship round of the Class AA, Region 3, Section 3 tournament on Friday afternoon, beating Bluefield 2-1 at Bowen Field.
The game started earlier than scheduled due to a forecast of evening rain.
The Mavs’ Tyler Moore limited the Beavers to three singles in the first two innings, no hits in the next three frames, and three hits in the final two stanzas. James Monroe staked him to two runs in the first, which proved to be just enough.
James Monroe head coach John Mustain said, “He’s had some good games this year; he just hadn’t really gotten the defense behind him. Today, luckily, we got those runs early and held on. Defense was pretty good in that game.”
“He pitched well. He spotted his fast ball really well. His two-seam was breaking really well, and that helped him a lot. I was very happy with his performance. I was really worried about someone coming in after Caleb (Brown). And he did the job.”
Mustain laughed about a fanciful theory he came up with concerning Moore’s motivation.
The coach said, “He dates Mikayla Wickline, and Mikayla had that no-hitter yesterday, so I guess he was trying to keep up with her. Maybe that’s what it was.”
In the James Monroe first, Micah Deskins got aboard and Ryan Page followed with a double to center field. E.T. Weiss temporarily took over for Page as a courtesy runner.
Bluefield committed a pair of errors to get in a bind. Cory Lilly’s drive to right field scored Deskins and Reed McNeer hit an RBI single to score Weiss with the second run.
Then the offenses for both teams started to dry up. Bluefield freshman pitcher Randy Maxey limited the Mavericks to five total hits.
Bluefield head coach Justin Gilbert said, “We had two errors there in the first, and that led to their two runs. But, you know, Randy Maxey did a great job. He allows them five hits, two runs over the course of six innings. You can’t ask any more of your starting pitcher. We just didn’t back it up at the plate today.”
Mustain said, “Maxey, he pitched a whale of a game, too. It was fun. Those kind of games are fun — good pitching, good defense. I’d much rather have a game like that ... than 14 to 15 (runs) or something like that. To me, that’s not really baseball.”
Bluefield was down to its last out in the seventh when freshman Jeremy Thompson got a ground-ball base hit, and Maxey drove him in with a single into left-center field, cutting the Mavericks’ lead to 2-1.
But Moore induced a swinging strikeout to end the game.
Maxey was the only Bluefield player with multiple hits.
Gilbert said, “We just came up short tonight. I felt like we came out flat, and it seems like we never came out of it until there in the seventh. But at that point, it was a little too late.”
“You can’t come out in these do-or-die games, flat, because you can quickly find yourself on the wrong end of that, like we did tonight.”
“We knew at the beginning of the year it was going to be a good sectional. I enjoy playing James Monroe and PikeView. They’re class acts. I’ve always enjoyed playing them. I just wish we could have been a little more competitive in this.”
He said about his season, “It wasn’t an easy schedule. I created one of the harder schedules that we’ve had here in my six years here.
“We had injuries in the early part of the year, but we grew up. We learned the game of baseball. The thing I try to do is, we play the game the right way. We didn’t always do that, but that was our goal ... to learn the game of baseball, and grow every week.”
The three Bluefield seniors shared their thoughts after their final high school game.
Logan Lineberry said about playing for Bluefield, “I’ve always thought it’s very special.”
“It’s considered an academic school, but also an athletic school. Any time you represent Bluefield High School, you’re expected to win, expected to succeed and be above — whoever.”
Justin Mariotti said, “It’s been a fun ride. It’s a shame it has to come to an end like this, but I guess that’s just a part of life.”
Andrew Siegel said wearing the Bluefield uniform has been “an honor. I’ve been here all four years. I’ve been blessed to actually start all four years on varsity.
“Me and Coach Gilbert have gotten a good relationship. It (stinks) that it has to end like this, but you know, it’s life. It’ll make us, and make me, a stronger man.”
“I wish the best of luck to the lower grade-level guys. But for me, it’s over. It’s a sad way to end it, but that’s just how it is.”
Lineberry said, “I feel the baseball program has grown a lot recently. Last year, we were ranked No. 1 for a number of weeks ... This year I thought we were just as good, we just played tougher competition.”
“Bluefield’s coming up (in baseball). We have a young core on the team coming back ... and there are good things still to come.”
Siegel said about Bowen Field, “it’s a great field. We’re actually really lucky to be able to play at a nice facility like this.”
Mariotti said that Gilbert is “a great guy. He’s easy to get along with, knows how to make you a better baseball player. Overall, it’s been a great experience.”
Gilbert said about the seniors, “They have contributed a lot to this program over the last four years. I want them to know they’ll be missed. They’ve meant a lot to me, they’ve meant a lot to this program, and I wish it could have been a better ending for them.”
— Contact Tom Bone at
At Bowen Field
Bluefield................000 000 1 — 1 6 3
James Monroe......200 000 x — 2 5 1
Randy Maxey and Logan Lineberry. Tyler Moore and Ryan Page. WP - Moore. LP - Maxey.