TAZEWELL, Va. —
The Cardiac Kids struck gold late Thursday.
After surrendering three first-inning unearned runs, Tazewell’s Lady Bulldogs battled back with a three spot of their own in the bottom of the sixth to beat Abingdon 5-4.
The win marked the first time in three seasons that Tazewell (4-3) has defeated the powerful Falcons (6-3) on the diamond.
Zoe McReynolds came on to pitch for Tazewell in the bottom of the third with the Dogs trailing 3-1 and kept Abingdon off balance for the rest of the contest. Meanwhile, Tazewell kept hitting the ball and it finally paid off in the decisive sixth as the Dogs shut Abingdon out over the final five innings.
Abingdon appeared poised to continue their long victory streak with four hits and three runs, aided by a pair of Tazewell errors in the opening inning.
Morgan Turner singled and advanced to second on an outfield miscue. Leanna Toler and Jenna Gilbert spanked back-to-back ground rule doubles over the fence in right center before Kelsee Rolen singled and the Falcons had a 3-0 cushion.
“We have this ‘thing’ where we get behind early and then come back,” laughed Tazewell’s Laken Sparks after the win, “and I hope we figure it out so we can get a lead and hold on to that.”
In an early indication of things to come, Tazewell answered with a single first frame run. Karlee Wasilewski hit what appeared to be a long single but she stretched it into a double. Sparks’ roller down the first base line with two outs brought Wasilewski home to cut the margin to 3-1.
Abingdon answered quickly, with Katherine Toler taking first after being hit by a pitch in the next inning. Turner then hit into a fielder’s choice and Toler came around to score on a throwing error to make it 4-1 as Tazewell continued its struggle with the leather.
“We played well early but we stopped hitting,” said Abingdon coach Jason Delp. “We went about four innings in the middle of the game and just did not hit. We could have had some more early runs.
“Leading 8-1 instead of 4-1 would have made a lot of difference. McReynolds shut us down. We didn’t make any adjustment to the difference in pitching. Tazewell plays hard all the way and we let them off the hook.”
Rolen worked her way out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the third inning as the Lady Dogs stranded three runners. Steady pitching and improving defense on the Tazewell side kept Abingdon at bay in the middle of the game.
Whitney Saunders ignited the next run when she smashed a shot to the right field wall and hustled it into a triple. Sparks then ripped a double off the fence in dead center for the RBI of Saunders to cut the margin to 4-2, her second run batted in of the game.
Finally, in the sixth inning, the Dogs broke free.
Jordan Steele led off and reached on an error. Two batters later Laura Kincer got an infield single and then Wasilewski ripped a single to right center to bring home Steele. Gracey Cline spanked a base hit for another ribbie as Kincer scored to tie it at 4-4. Saunders then got what proved to be the game-winning RBI to plate Wasilewski.
Two good plays by third baseman Ally Lee helped McReynolds to a 1-2-3 seventh and the win.
McReynolds, a freshman starter, said, “I wanted to shut the door on them (Abingdon) and give us a chance. I’m very proud of how we came back. Our team is starting to come together.”
Saunders, the senior, said it was some early effort that also paid dividends.
“We did a lot of extra work today before the game,” noted Saunders. “It paid off — Abingdon has been very tough for us lately — we have to concentrate and make the routine plays, not beat ourselves. We are coming around. I like this team.”
So does Tazewell coach Tom Keene, who said, “We were fortunate to win a heck of a game against a heck of a team. Everybody had to contribute for us to come back and that is what they did. The fans got their moneys’ worth today.”
Abingdon hosts Lebanon Tuesday while Tazewell travels to Richlands for two games with the junior varsity starting at 4:30 p.m.
At Tazewell High School
Abingdon..............................310 000 0 — 4
Tazewell................................101 003 x — 5
Rolen and L. Toler. Cline, McReynolds (3) and Sparks. W—McReynolds; L—Rolen. ꆱ