By LLOYD COMBS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
HAYSI, Va. —
Honaker baseball coach Tom Harding and Haysi coach Dewayne Stanley are old friends who would gladly help one another any way they could.
This was not what either had in mind.
Honaker overcame its base-running mistakes, but Haysi could not overcome its untimely errors as the Honaker Tigers knocked off the Haysi Tigers, 11-6, Thursday night at John Flannagan Dam.
Honaker pieced three three-run rallies together to keep the lead from the second inning on in the Black Diamond District contest. The Tigers (9-0, 4-0) remained unbeaten despite having five runners thrown out on the bases.
“We tried to help them and they tried to help us,” Harding said. “It was ugly.
“We ran ourselves out of big innings several times. But it’s a win and we’ll take it. Getting a win here at Haysi is never an easy thing to do.”
Haysi catcher Jalen Sykes threw out four of eight would-be base stealers and made a perfect swipe tag on a runner who tried to score from second on an infield single. The putout went 6-3-2.
Both teams got big hits, none bigger than a bases-clearing, three-run double by Honaker’s Austin Kiser in the fourth that gave the Tigers a 7-0 cushion.
Winning pitcher Payton Ball helped his own cause with three hits, including a double and two walks in five plate appearances.
Ball, who came in hitting just .181, played a role in four of Honaker’s five scoring rallies, jumping on the first pitch for two of his hits.
“I changed my approach and decided to be more aggressive at the plate,” Ball said.
Kiser added a second double and a sacrifice fly and drove in five runs. Hunter Lester opened the scoring with a solo homer to right-center in the second inning and finished the game 2-for-3 with one of seven walks issued by two Haysi pitchers. Travis Price added two hits and Austin Ray delivered a two-run single in the second.
Nick Mullins contributed two singles and both he and Sykes drove in two runs for Haysi (5-6, 3-1).
Honaker only outhit Haysi 11-10 and the teams made four errors apiece. Haysi’s miscues just came at the worst times.
“We hit the ball well enough to win,” Haysi coach Dewayne Stanley said. “I thought (starter) Drake Howell pitched well enough to win.
“We just couldn’t make the plays when we needed to. We needed to put all three together to have a chance against a team like Honaker and we didn’t do that.”
Ball took a shutout into the fourth and eventually struck out nine batters in six innings to notch his third win in as many decisions. He also allowed eight hits and had just a single 1-2-3 inning.
“I didn’t adjust to their mound like I should have,” Ball said. “It has a (big) drop-off and I didn’t throw as hard as I wanted to and I think it had an effect on my off-speed pitches.
“But I can’t use it an excuse. I just wasn’t focused as much as I should have been. The team wasn’t focused and we can’t do that.”
Honaker............................ 031 303 1 — 11 11 4
Haysi................................000 202 2 — 6 10 4
Ball, Phillips (7) and Mitchell. Howell, Owens (7) and Sykes. W-Ball (3-0). L-Howell. HR-Lester (Hon) 2nd, none on.