It took three days, two fields and extra innings, but PikeView was finally able to secure the Region 3, Section 4 championship for the second time in three years.
“It is the goal we had,” PikeView freshman Carter Shrewsbury said. “Hopefully we are going to go further and get some more wins.”
They will get that chance, after Shrewsbury drove in a run in the top of the eighth inning, and the Panthers defeated James Monroe 6-5 on Thursday evening at PikeView High School.
“That is two in three (years) and they have been earned,” PikeView head coach Josh Wyatt said. “They have been hard fought.”
PikeView (21-10) will travel to Mount View (6-15) on Tuesday for a Region 3 semifinal game. The winner visits either defending Class AA champion Wyoming East or Independence later in the week with a berth in the state tournament at stake.
“From here on out it is one and done,” Wyatt said. “We have to go down there and take care of business.”
It took a while, but the Panthers did just that to claim the sectional title.
“We have been waiting, it creates just a little bit more nerves,” Shrewsbury said. “It just gave us more excitement to come out here and get the win.”
PikeView led 3-2 in the top of the third inning last Friday at Bowen Field when the rains came and forced a suspension in play. The clubs met again on Saturday, got in just over an inning, and rain forced another delay, which would last until Thursday with the Mavericks up 5-3 in the fourth.
“We were waiting to play,” Shrewsbury said. “We got the field ready and then it just rained more and we didn’t get to play.”
Finally, the game resumed on Thursday, with the Panthers scoring single runs in the fourth on an error and fifth on a wild pitch to tie the score at 5-5.
“We tied it up. I told the guys before, we had a runner on second, let’s get him across first and try to work the count and get another one on and tie the ball game up,” Wyatt said. “We did that to perfection.
“The very next inning we have runners on second and third and no outs and they bring Caleb (Brown) in and we ran ourselves out of it. It was back to that thing where we didn’t put pressure on them to force the deal.”
James Monroe (9-16) was saddled by miscues throughout the game, committing five errors, and leaving two runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh innings, and a runner on second with no outs in the eighth.
“That has kind of been our season in a nutshell, not being able to get the big hit at the right time, and the errors,” James Monroe head coach John Mustain said. “I think we had about eight errors in this game, I think we had four before we left Bluefield.”
Mustain’s son, John, allowed just one earned run before being replaced in the fifth by Brown, who retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced.
“You can’t win games that way..,” Mustain said. “(John) pitched a whale of a game. We have got to make the plays behind him. We talk all the time about pitchers, you can’t expect to strike everybody out, you have got to let your defense make the plays, but the defense has to make the plays.”
PikeView, which went with Zach Meadows on the mound for the first two days, brought in sophomore southpaw Austin Cordell to start Thursday, and he allowed two hits and walked two, but no runs in four innings.
That continued a torrid pace for Cordell, who has allowed no more than one run in any of his last five outings.
PikeView challenged in the eighth, with Jon Clark reaching on an one-out single, but was forced out on a bouncer back to Brown by Ryan Roberts. Shrewsbury followed with a single to left field, but a balk was called on Brown, allowing Roberts to move to second, and leaving Shrewsbury still at the plate.
“I was excited I got that one hit, but my main thoughts was just get up there and get another hit,” Shrewsbury said.
He did. Shrewsbury swatted a single to center field and Roberts slid across the plate ahead of the throw for the lead.
“I was just looking for a good pitch, trying to get a base hit and help the team out and score a run,” Shrewsbury said.
Shrewsbury is one of three freshmen in the starting lineup for the Panthers, who have set a school record this year with 21 wins.
“What about them freshmen,” Wyatt said. “I was just telling him, ‘Hey, it was a balk, we have a runner in scoring position now, now you get your hit’, and did he ever. He came through and all year...There is no break in this lineup, when we are swinging the bats, anybody at the bottom or at the top, anybody can get it started, the middle.
“We are on now, we are playing good ball.”
While Cordell wanted the ball in the bottom of the eighth, Wyatt went with Kevin Cottle, the PikeView ace, who walked Derrick Honaker and then retired the next three batters after Honaker had moved to third on a stolen base and ground ball.
“(Austin) was fighting me for that ball to come out there at the end, you have got to love that, but we had Kevin there in the bullpen and it was a save situation,” Wyatt said. “That first walk I think he was a little anxious for this, he settled down and battled.”
PikeView, which was led by two hits each from freshmen Clark and Keian Lee, and two runs by Roberts, celebrated the sectional title before looking ahead to Mount View next, whom the Panthers defeated 13-5 earlier this year in Welch.
“They are playing good ball,” Wyatt said. “Ever since the new coach took over, there has been a change in that ball club and it is going to be a battle.”
Shrewsbury had two RBIs for the Panthers, while Cordell and Hunter Moses had one apiece.
“It has been exciting, we talked at the beginning about being close, but the most important thing is they are such great kids...,” said Wyatt, of the participants in the Section 4 tournament. “It is tough to watch somebody lose, they are a bunch of good kids.
“I am glad for us, it couldn’t have worked out any better.”
It may have been the final game on the diamond for Mustain, who led the Mavericks to five sectional titles in eight years, including a state runner-up finish in 2010.
“I am proud of these kids, I am proud of the seniors,” said Mustain, whose Mavericks were led by Lilly and Ryan Page with two hits each, while Brown had a two-run single and Honaker and Cory Lilly also drove in runs. “It is a good chance this may be it for me, that makes it even tougher.
“In eight years we have won five sections, we have gone to the state tournament, finished runner-up. You can always ask for more, but there is a lot of people sitting at home more often than I do, I feel pretty fortunate.”
So does Shrewsbury, who has started all season in center field for the Panthers, and doesn’t want it to end any time soon.
“It has been very great, it has been a good experience, I like all the kids on the team,” Shrewsbury said. “We are going to try our best to go as far as we can.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at PikeView High School
PikeView.......................111 110 01 — 6 9 0
James Monroe..............203 000 00 — 5 8 5
Zach Meadows, Austin Cordell (4), Kevin Cottle (8) and Hunter Moses. John Mustain, Caleb Brown (5) and Ryan Page. W—Cordell; L—Brown; S—Cottle. HR—none.