By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
It felt more like March than May, but it didn’t seem to bother the Maroon Tide.
Caleb Spurlin had four hits, drove in three runs and scored three more, and Logan Beamer threw a no-hitter in the second game, and Nick Davis scattered five hits in the opener, leading Galax to a Mountain Empire District sweep over Graham 4-2 and 6-0 on a cold and windy Friday evening at Graham Middle School.
“This team here, a great team, good sportsmanship,” Graham assistant coach Tommy Lovell said. “All we want to do here is win, but of course I guess you have to go through your losses to appreciate your wins even more.”
Galax (9-8, 4-1), which trail only Grayson County in the MED standings, were greeted by a brisk wind and temperatures that continued to drop during the two five-inning games.
“In May it is kind of surprising, I thought we might get a little better weather today than we did back home,” Galax head coach Bobby Parnell said. “When we left it was right at 70 and here it is right at 60 and I think it has got cooler since we got here.”
Much cooler, especially for the Graham bats. The G-Men had five hits in the opener, including a pair of singles by Lovell’s son — who is also named Tommy — but managed just two walks and no hits in the nightcap off sophomore lefthander Beamer.
“We have seen a few (southpaws), he was really consistent, he threw a lot of strikes, he threw it in there,” Lovell said. “We just couldn’t put the bat on the ball and when we did it was right to another player and they made really good plays.”
Graham freshman McKinley Webb allowed seven hits in the second game before being replaced by Ben Carlisle in the fourth in the nightcap, but the Maroon Tide scored three runs in the second and four more in the fourth.
“I was pretty pleased, I could have threw a little more strikes and put a little more speed on it so I think I could have done a little bit better,” Webb said. “Every day I think I can do a little bit better.”
Webb is one of several young players that Graham is depending on for a brighter future on the diamond.
“I love baseball, it is probably one of the best sports in America,” said Webb, an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and Dustin Pedroia. “Being a freshman on varsity, I think you have a lot of responsibility.
“Coming up here, I knew I had a lot of responsibility and I just try to carry the team on my back.”
The swirling wind helped the Maroon Tide take the lead in the second inning. After Davis reached on a two-out single, Spurlin hit a fly ball to center field, but it blew toward left field and Jacob Britton tried to catch up, but came up short with a diving try.
“(Spurlin) does hit the ball well to be a freshman,” Parnell said. “He was right on it and drives the ball pretty well too.”
Matt Garvey followed with a single for the 3-0 lead.
“The ball carries a lot in the wind, I think it went about 20 miles left, but I didn’t blame my outfield for that,” Webb said. “I just told them it was the wind, we just had to get ready to play the rest of the game.”
Galax added four runs in the fourth, keyed by a two-run single by Spurlin, a squeeze bunt from Caleb Peck and a single by Daniel Larrowe as the temperatures continued to drop.
“It is pretty cold, but I think the first game we fought through it, the second game I think we were tired,” Webb said. “We came here right after school and had to get ready to play ball.”
Beamer was unhittable for the Maroon Tide. He walked Lovell on four pitches to open the game, and walked Webb in the fifth, but that was all the baserunners Graham would get.
“He gave us no hits in the second game,” Parnell said. “He is a pretty good kid, he has been battling hard all year and that is what we kind of look for.”
Davis was nearly as stingy in the opener, although the G-Men did managed five hits, scoring twice in the third to tie the score at 2-2 on a pair of errors.
Graham was hampered by five errors of their own, with the Maroon Tide scoring once in the second on a throwing error and again with an RBI single in the third by Chandler Quesenberry.
After Graham tied the score when Josh Conley and Lovell singled, and both runners scored on errors, the Maroon Tide scored two in the fourth on an RBI triple to the center field fence by Peck and an infield grounder from Larrowe.
“They came out and had some pretty good pitching themselves and made us work hard there,” Parnell said. “I have to give it to my guys there, they didn’t let down none.”
Graham put two runners on in the fifth, but didn’t score again.
“There are a few things that we have been working on all year and it just didn’t come together,” said the elder Lovell. “I am hoping with the stretch we have ahead of us that we can get it going together.”
The elder Lovell served as acting head coach for the G-Men with Matt Dixon out after his wife gave birth to a girl earlier in the week.
“He is tickled to death and I know he wanted to be here, but of course family is always first, it is always first regardless,” Lovell said. “I am proud of them, and I am also proud of these kids.”
Graham, which struggled earlier in the week in a pair of losses to Bluefield, was determined to play better against the Maroon Tide, and they did.
“I think we will get a lot better. Without our coach here, we played really hard trying to show up and give him everything we can and we tried to make him happy,” said Lovell, the junior, who played second base and catcher when Corey Monninger was sent home in the middle of the first game for disciplinary reasons.
“We did everything we could today. We made a lot of mistakes, we have got to work on our batting a lot, but I think we will all turn it around and get better.”
Lovell’s father is confident the G-Men (4-12) will continue to improve, and hopes it starts on Tuesday at Narrows.
“I think they came in more motivated today,” he said. “I think now it is getting to them where they want to win and where they want to be competitive and we are close, but close, a coach can only say close but so much.
“You just have to work them, get them ready, keep them going and hopefully the motivation can build up in them...Hopefully we can go in (to Narrows), motivate, move, drive and get some runs up and have a complete game.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at Graham Middle School
Galax........................................011 20 — 4 6 3
Graham....................................002 00 — 2 5 5
Nick Davis and Caleb Spurlin. Jacob Simpson and Corey Monninger, Tommy Lovell (4). W—Davis; L—Simpson. HR—none.
Graham.....................................000 00 — 0 0 1
Galax........................................020 4x — 6 7 0
McKinley Webb, Ben Carlisle (4) and Tommy Lovell. Logan Beamer and Nick Davis. W—Beamer; L—Webb. HR—none.