Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

April 17, 2014

Dogs bite G-Men

Hancock’s hits and steals lead Tazewell to win

TAZEWELL, Va. — Every team needs a leadoff batter who knows how to get on base and make things happen.

Colin Hancock serves that role for Tazewell.

"I love it," Hancock said. "You get to judge a pitcher, and get your teammates locked in from the start."

He certainly did his job on a chilly Wednesday night at Lou Peery Field, collecting two singles, two walks, two runs scored, five stolen bases and even drove in the final run in an 11-1 five-inning victory over Graham.

"That is a pretty good day," Hancock said. "I like getting myself in scoring position for my teammates behind me, it really helps us out a lot."

"He sets the tone for us," added Tazewell head coach Aaron Buchanan. "He is a great leadoff hitter, watches pitches, puts the ball in play and does a great job for us."

Tazewell (6-1) sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning, scoring eight runs on five hits and four walks to build on a 1-0 lead against Graham (1-5-1), which was coming off its first win of the season, an 8-7 victory at Marion on Monday.

"It was a big inning. We come off a big win down at Marion on Monday, and we had some high hopes going into it," Graham head coach Matt Dixon said. "We are definitely disappointed. We think we have closed the gap a good bit, we are disappointed in the way we played.

"We will go out to practice tomorrow and get better and prepare for next week."

Hancock put the Bulldogs up to stay in the first, taking four straight pitches for a walk, stole second and third and scored on a misplayed infield single by Brett Jones.

"My first at-bat I usually try to see some pitches to let my teammates see the actual pitches," Hancock said. "Once I get my pitch I try to use mine to my advantage to hit it somewhere to make my teammates feel good about it behind me."

Logan Kirk and Dacota Byrd reached on one-out singles against Tazewell starter Toby Myers in the second, but the G-Men bounced into one of their two double plays in the game.

"They showed patience and their pitcher did a nice job of keeping us off-balanced," Dixon said. "He did a nice job, we put it in play and hit it at people and that is the way it goes sometimes. They are fundamentally sound, they are going to make you beat yourself and that is what we did."

Tazewell took control in the third, with Hancock following a Lucas Parsons single with a perfect bunt down the third base line. Parsons and Hancock both stole bases, and Chase Illig followed with a two-run double to left field. Two bases loaded walks allowed two more runs to score, and Casey Lee cleared the bases with a three-run triple to left.

"Our bats are on fire right now," Hancock said. "We have been hitting the ball real good, we have just got to keep it up."

Parsons completed the scoring with a sacrifice fly. Hancock reached again on a walk and swiped two more bases, but was stranded at third.

"That is what I do, I use my speed to my advantage," said Hancock, who never hesitates to steal a base. "It was a good game, it is good competition, it is nice to win."

Graham pushed across a run in the fourth on a single and stolen base by Ben Meade and an RBI single from McKinley Webb.

"Matt Dixon is doing a great job with that program," Buchanan said. "We come out and ready to play and they come out ready to play, we luckily had a good third inning there...

"We scored eight runs, that kind of put a damper on them. They were still in the ball game, they were still playing hard, which is an attribute to Dixon and what they are doing up there."

Tazewell added a run in the fourth on an sacrifice fly from Todd Mulkey, and scored the final run in the fifth when Luke Robinson was hit by a pitch and Austin Belcher singled.  Parsons bunted them up a base and — who else, on this night — Hancock clubbed a single to left to score pinch-runner Dakota Hawks to end the game.

"Colin is a good kid, I coached against him when he was a golfer at Tazewell," Dixon said. "He is quick, he is a good player, he makes them go from the start, just a good little athlete and a second baseman too."

Myers earned the win for the Bulldogs, allowing four hits, striking out four and walking none. Graham's three pitchers were able to limit the Bulldogs to eight hits, but also walked seven and hit a batter.

" It is all about strikes and we are doing a good job about it right now," Hancock said. "Our goal is not to walk a lot of people because walks score runs and we can't have that."

Tazewell, which will travel to Union on Friday, was able to celebrate the Coppinger Invitational title last weekend, but the Bulldogs want more hardware this season. "

"We have four goals," Hancock said. "We want to win the Coppinger, conference, region and state tournament. We already got one, we have got three more to go."

"I said our goal is to have four trophies at the end of the season and that was one of them," added Buchanan. "I told them we break the season down into three parts and we are on part two now."

Graham, which will host Fort Chiswell on Tuesday, has shown improvement, winning at Marion earlier this week, only a few weeks after losing to the same team by 12 runs.

"We beat a really good team," Dixon said. "They spanked us there 16-4 and we improved and we went down there and we hit the ball, we did some hit-and-runs, we got a good pitching performance.

"We are proud of that, but we can't settle for that. You have got to continue getting better and I think that is what this program has. You have got to remember the losses more than the wins, that is how you know you are a good program."

Tazewell has long had one of the area's top programs, and that has continued this season,, even as Buchanan has replaced Lou Peery in the dugout.

So far so good.

"It is a little different, but he is doing a great job as a coach," Hancock said. "It is a fun time."

— Contact Brian Woodson at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

at Lou Peery Field

Graham..................................000 10 —  1  4  0

Tazewell................................108 11 — 11  8 0

Logan Kirk, Jacob Simpson (3), Josh Conley (5) and Ben Meade, Kirk (3). Toby Myers and Chase Illig. W-Myers; L-Kirk. HR-none.

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