By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Shady Spring’s first win as a Class AAA school came at the expense of the defending state champions.
It was Tigers vs. Tigers at Hunnicutt Field on a warm Wednesday evening, with Shady Spring earning its stripes with 13 hits and scoring at least one run in every inning to defeat Princeton 13-5.
That came one night after Shady Spring (1-6) was held to just four hits in a 5-2 loss to Kevin Cottle and PikeView.
“Our kids have been progressively getting a little bit better and tonight we couldn’t have played any better,” Shady Spring head coach David Shaw said. “Our kids played well, we couldn’t hit the ball any better, we put a nice solid game together and our pitchers did well.”
Princeton (6-6), which lost all but two starters off last year’s Class AAA state championship team, had defeated Greenbrier East 6-2 on Tuesday, but Tigers’ head coach Josh Wilburn didn’t think his club took the visiting Tigers as serious as they should have.
“Going from double A to triple A, you can’t underestimate anybody coming in,” Wilburn said. “It is just very humbling for our kids to see a smaller school that just turned triple A to come in and definitely beat us on our home field which we are not used to.
“That disappoints me really bad as well. It’s a little easier to shallow a loss on the road, any loss is not good, but to take one at home like that against a team that we feel like we should beat, that is hard.”
Five Shady Spring batters had two hits each off five Princeton pitchers, with Brenden Schack collecting a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Jordan Palchesko, John Linkous, Jacob Childers and Franklin Buckner had two hits each, while Palchesko, Linkous and Buckner drove in two runs apiece.
Four different Tigers scored at least two runs, with Palchesko crossing the plate three times. Buckner and Adam Carr had doubles for the visitors. `
Princeton pitchers not only allowed 13 hits, but walked six batters, threw five wild pitches, and the Tigers’ defense committed four errors.
“They played very well, they came straight out the first inning and really hit the ball well. They play really well here at this ball park,” Wilburn said. “I congratulated them and tipped my head to them, but I was very disappointed with my team tonight, really my pitching staff came out early and didn’t get it done, and just mental mistakes.”
Shady Spring took advantage of a two-out fielding error in the first to score two runs on singles by Linkous and Andrew Green. Princeton managed to pull within 2-1 when Ian Southcott reached on a force play and came in on a single from Chris Otey.
The runs just kept coming for the visiting Tigers. Doubles by Buckner and Schack and a single from Palchesko made it 4-1. Nick Janutulo homered in the bottom of the second for Princeton to narrow the margin to 4-2.
That was as close as Princeton would get, as Shady Spring scorched the Tigers’ pitching staff, scoring three runs in the seventh and two each in the fourth and fifth innings.
“It seems like there early in the season our pitching struggled and then it turned around where we were getting great pitching performances and started to win baseball games,” Wilburn said. “Tonight we just didn’t get it done.”
Shady Spring also used three pitchers. Ryan Snodgrass picked up the win, while Hunter Argebrite and Michael Hill pitched well out of the bullpen as the young Tigers, who have just five seniors on the team, are learning to compete at the Class AAA level.
“...for these guys, we are not real experienced so it is a big transition,” said Shaw, who acknowledged that he has long scheduled Class AAA competition. “We are learning as we go and it is going to be tough all year but I think we can be competitive and that is what I want us to be.”
Princeton was able to score runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but Shady Spring caught a pair of line drives and pulled double plays to end threats in both frames.
The Tigers, who were led at the plate by Janutulo with two hits, including a home run and two runs batted in, put three of its first four runners on in the sixth, but Hill fanned the final two batters in the sixth and retired three of four in the seventh to end the game.
Bryson Allen had a triple for Princeton, and Southcott, who took the loss on the mound, drove in a run.
“We even had an opportunity in the bottom of the sixth to get something going, but I told them you can’t wait until the bottom of the sixth to finally decide you are going to get a rally together,” said Wilburn, whose Tigers were 1-3 last week in the Mingo Bay Classic, while Shady Spring was 0-3 in the same event. “We just didn’t play well tonight.”
Shady Spring will host Oak Hill today, while Princeton will entertain Woodrow Wilson on Friday, with Wilburn looking for improvement from his club.
“Even though we played good baseball down there (at Myrtle Beach) we are not playing up to our capabilities, we’re just not, and hopefully we can get it turned around and spark a fire under these kids and get them playing,” Wilburn said. “We are a lot better than what we have been showing, but hopefully we can get it together.
“Hopefully by the end of the season come sectionals we’re playing good baseball.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Hunnicutt Field
Shady Spring................221 221 3 — 13 13 2
Princeton......................110 222 0 — 5 8 4
Ryan Snodgrass, Hunter Argebrite (5),Michael Hill (6) and Brenden Schack. Ian Southcott, Nick Janutulo (4), Bryce Peek (5), Billy Jack Varney (6), Bo Williams (7) and Josh Perry. HR—Janutulo (P) 2nd, 0 on.