By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
WARDELL, Va. —
It was a football score in a baseball game, and Adam Davis will take it.
Jonathan “Shaggy” Cochran had three hits and worked the final two innings on the mound, and Richlands defeated Bluefield 17-7 on a sunny Tuesday afternoon at Southwest Virginia Community College.
It was the first varsity win for Davis, who replaced Brad Strong as the Richlands baseball coach prior to this season.
“I love it, it is great, the kids are wonderful, they are great to work with,” Davis said. “It was good to get the first win under our belt now and hopefully just keep focusing on the rest of the season and improving and getting better and doing the little things right.”
Richlands (2-1), which had played just twice all season — losing twice to Honaker — will play three times this week and got off to a winning start, collecting 13 hits, taking advantage of five Bluefield errors and scored at least two runs in four of the five innings played.
“This is our third game all year, but we finally got some good weather,” Davis said. “That (Bluefield) is a good hitting ball club right there, they went down to Myrtle Beach last week and seen some action down there.
“They have played about 10 ball games and it makes a difference when you see live pitching, they hit the ball real well.”
So did Richlands, which took a 3-0 lead in the first, but Bluefield answered with five of their own. The Blue Tornado then pushed across eight runs on three hits, three errors, two walks and two hit-batsmen to take an 11-5 lead after two innings.
“They jump out with three, we jump out with five, before you know it we are up 5-3,” Bluefield head coach Justin Gilbert said, “but when they put that eight-spot on us with the hits and the few miscues in the field, I think we got a little down on ourselves.”
Bluefield had nine hits, including seven in a five-run second to chase starter Ben Brown, but the Beavers managed just one more hit over the final three frames against relievers Trent Davis, Wesley Mays and Cochran.
Mays picked up the win by facing one batter and inducing one of two Richlands’ double plays in the third. Cochran worked the last two innings as Davis had to think ahead to games later in the week.
“We had to have a staff today, and they put it together real well,” Davis said. “Trent did a good job, he just had one little error right there or he would have been out of the (third) inning quick.
“Wes Mays came in, did a good job and got us out of that inning and then ‘Shaggy’ come in and done a great job to save the day for us.”
Pitching will be an issue all season with the new rules instituted in high school baseball.
“The pitching, with the new rules this year, is pretty tough like today, if you leave a guy in there for more than an inning, he is burned for the next day so you really have to use a staff,” said Davis, whose Blues visit Sullivan East (Tenn.) today and Carroll County on Friday. “’Shaggy’ did a good job and that helped us keep a couple of extra guys that are in the rotation fresh and ready to throw a couple of innings tomorrow and throw some on Friday too.”
Gilbert knows how Davis feels. He lost top pitcher R.J. Bourne with a broken leg prior to spring break, and lost Andrew Siegel in the loss to Richlands for ‘2 or 3 weeks’ with a hamstring injury.
That forced Justin Mariotti to pitch the final four innings for the Beavers when Justin Carter was knocked out by the Richlands bats.
“We are sort of getting to the point where we have to watch our arms,” Gilbert said. “Those guys (Bourne and Siegel) were in the top two of the rotation so not making excuses, but we had to watch tonight what we were doing...there is a limit to those arms, you don’t want to hurt a kid.
“Justin realized that tonight and pretty much he had to carry us toward the end. Not making excuses, but you have to give credit. Richlands waited on those pitches and when they got ahead in the count, they came across they put it in play.”
Five of the top six batters in the Richlands lineup had at least two hits, led by Cochran, who had a double, two singles, two runs scored and two RBIs. Brown added two hits, including an RBI single in the fifth that drove in the final run of the game.
“They hit the ball, they put it in play, we made a few miscues and they came ready to play and it showed,” Gilbert said. “It is tough (with the injuries), but guys are going to step up and we will fill those voids, we have to get some other kids some work out there and make it work.”
Michael Horton, Zach Yates and River Michaels also had two hits. Chase Ray had a double and drove in three runs, while Cochran, Michaels and Patrick Jackson had two RBIs apiece.
“They hit the ball real well today, that is what you have to do this year with the way the pitching is, you have got to put up runs and you are just going to have to score,” Davis said. “The top of the lineup, we have got some seniors that have been here for a while.
“They understand what they have got to do and they understand situational hitting to move runners over and score and especially in tight ball games like that.”
Bluefield was led at the plate by Christian Oster and Justin Carter with two hits each, while Mariotti drove in a pair of runs. Oster had the lone extra base knock for the Beavers with an RBI double in the second.
“We were 0-4 at the beach and came back last night and got us one (against Tazewell),” Gilbert said. “They came ready to play, they always do down here, they have a quality program.”
While Richlands has just played three games all season, the Beavers’ pitching staff will be taxed, having finished a four-game week in Myrtle Beach, and with five games on tap to play by Saturday.
“The way the games are stacked up on us with all the reschedules, we are playing every day, and we are trying to get through it with the arms that you have got and not trying to hurt anybody,” said Gilbert, whose Beavers host Independence tonight and will play Wyoming East and Shady Spring this week as well. “It is a fine line with how you have to approach it.
“It caught up with us tonight. We used Trevor (Mullins) last night to get us through the game with Tazewell and we obviously don’t have him for a few days and we had to go to staff.
“It was just a tough night, but with baseball you shake it off because you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself. We have three games in the next four days.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Southwest Virginia Community College
Bluefield..............................052 00 — 7 9 5
Richlands............................382 04 — 17 13 2
Justin Carter, Justin Mariotti (2) and Cody Goins. Ben Brown, Trent Davis (2), Wesley Mays (3), Jonathan Cochran (4) and Zach Yates. W—Mays; L—Carter. HR—none.