By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — Click here for video
Who says a week at the beach is not good?
The Bluefield Beavers baseball team spent last week at the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. While the Beavers did not win a game down South, they got valuable time on the field against tough competition and with their new-found confidence held on to beat the Tazewell Bulldogs 6-5, Monday night at Bowen Field.
“There is not a team or coaching staff in the area I respect more than that group we played tonight,” said Bluefield head coach Justin Gilbert. “To compete with them and play with them is tough on any given night. You’ve got to give compliments to them first.
“For us to come back from the beach after going down there and playing some good competition, we faced some adversity. But as we told the guys it wasn’t necessarily the wins and losses. We grew up as a team. We had to build on something. We talked about coming back and setting a precedent for what we learned and I thought the kids did that and I’m really proud of them.”
Early on it appeared Tazewell (1-3) would have its way with the Beavers (3-6). Tazewell’s Casey Lee got thing started with a one-out single off Bluefield starting pitcher Trevor Mullins. Lee then stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Chase Illig walked and courtesy runner Todd Mulkey took his place at first. Brett Powers laced a single to right that scored Mulkey all the way from first to make it a 2-0 Bulldogs’ lead. The inning ended when Bluefield catcher Cody Goins nabbed Powers attempting to steal third.
Tyler Myers gave up a first inning walk but got two strikeouts and a groundout to keep Bluefield off the board.
The wheels came off the Tazewell bus in the second. Back-to-back walks to Logan Lineberry and Justin Mariotti and an infield single by Justin Lightfoot loaded the bases with no outs. Jeremy Thompson singled to left scoring two and ending the night for Myers.
“I was looking for something to hit, something to drive with the bases loaded and he hung a curve ball and I turned on it pretty well,” Mullins said.
Mulkey took the ball for Tazewell and walked Justin Carter to reload the bases before he got a pair of outs. Enter Mullins who got his pitch and drove it over the left-fielder’s head for a bases-clearing double. Andrew Siegel followed with a double to score Mullins. When the counting was done, Bluefield had touched home six times and held a 6-2 lead.
Mullins found a groove starting in the second inning. In that frame he retired Tazewell in order, allowed a walk in the third, sat the Dogs down in order again in the fourth. Colin Hancock picked up a two-out single in the fifth but was stranded.
With their backs against the wall Tazewell came alive in the sixth. One out singles by Brett Bowers and Brett Jones and a bases-clearing triple to left by Brody Dean brought the Bulldogs to within two runs of tying the game.
For the Bulldogs, Mulkey kept the Beavers at bay. The freshman scattered three hits from the third inning through the remainder of the contest.
Andrew Siegel came on in the seventh to close things out for the Beavers. Lee had a one-out infield single and came around to score on Powers two-out single up the middle to make it 6-5 with the game-tying run on first.
“We had two freshmen, they threw the ball well,” said Tazewell head coach Lou Peery. “Their IQ is OK, but they are not smart enough to be afraid of anybody, they are going to come right at them. Our swinging the bat was lackadaisical and that’s expected early in the season. Bluefield played well and we came up a bit short.
“Baseball is all about rhythm, rhythm at the plate, rhythm in the field, rhythm on the mound. It’s like a shooter going in the gym. If you don’t get to shoot, it will take him a half before he makes a basket. It’s all about rhythm and when you don’t get on the field -- that’s no excuse, we play with what we’ve got and we’ll keep fighting and we’ll get better as the year goes on.”
Siegel, however, got Jones to ground out to third to end the game and give the Beavers the win.
Lee and Powers each got a pair of hits for Tazewell.
Mullins aided the cause with two hits and Thompson had two hits, the only Beavers with more than one hit.
Mullins got the win as he worked six innings, allowed five runs on six hits.
“The defense had my back,” Mullins said. “I tried not to get too down on myself with those two runs and the defense bailed me out early. Then after that it felt real great because I had confidence on the mound. I knew the guys behind me would make the routine and not-so-routine plays. It makes pitching a lot easier when you’ve got those guys behind you.”
Siegel earned the save.
Myers took the loss for the Dogs.
Bluefield plays today at Richlands, while Tazewell hosts Lebanon.
At Bowen Field
Tazewell.......200 002 1 — 5 8 0
Bluefield......060 000 x — 6 7 0
Myers, Mulkey (2) and Illig. Mullins, Siegel (7) and Goins. W-Mullins, L-Myers, S-Siegel.