By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Taking advantage of mistakes can typically be the difference on the high school diamond.
The Princeton Tigers did exactly that as they took a 2-1 victory over Oak Hill on Tuesday afternoon at Hunnicutt Field.
“Anytime we get a win in a close game especially a tough situation where our pitchers have to dig a little deep, it’s good for us,” Princeton head coach Josh Wilburn said. “When we get late in the year and we’re facing the bulk of our conference, it’s good for our kids to experience a win like that.”
Both of the Tigers’ runs came in the third inning as starting pitcher Addison Wood limited the Red Devils to just three hits.
“We had a mix-up on one of the signs that led to a base hit that drove in the runs,” Oak Hill head coach Chad Quesenberry said. “You’re talking about a miscommunication. We got a mixed up on sign then the kid laced a shot. Without that, it’s a completely differently ballgame.”
Oak Hill’s Chris Hysell walked Bryce Allen then Allen stole second to get the Princeton’s offense going. Ian Southcott ripped a single to drive in Allen. Southcott would later score with the bases loaded on a wild pitch.
The Red Devils lone run came in the fifth on balk which brought home Austin Nolan.
“I thought defensively we played one of the better games we’ve played all year,” Quesenberry said. “Our pitching staff is depleted right now like most people’s [staffs] are. When Hysell is on the mound, we’re usually in every ball game. We couldn’t get a timely hit. Defensively, I was pleased, but hitting, we just didn’t take good approaches.”
Wood nearly went a complete game. He was lifted after six and two-thirds innings. The junior struck out six, walked three, gave up three hits and had a wild pitch.
“We can always count on getting a good pitching performance from him,” Wilburn said of Wood. “He did exactly what we asked him to do even the innings that we struggled on defense, I don’t expect him to go out and strike out everybody. He did exactly what we he was supposed to do. We were fortunate to get a win out of it.”
Hysell was just as good allowing only four hits in six innings. He walked four, but struck out five.
The Red Devils had several chances to tie the game or take a lead. They had the bases loaded in the third, but could not come up with a run. Then in the final frame, they had two runners on before Bo Williams closed the game out.
“We left them loaded in third. We had our number four hitter up and just got a little over anxious,” Quesenberry said. “We had a couple other opportunities. It’s been a long spring for a lot of us. We’ve not been out a lot.
“When we saw fastballs, our eyes still get kind of big 15 games in and I understand that. It’s just one of those things. I can feel us getting better every game and that’s all that matters.”
Bubba Smith went 2-for-2 including a double for Oak Hill while Josh Lokant had their other hit.
Southcott led the Tigers with two hits, a RBI and a run scored. Chris Otey and Josh Perry each added a hit.
Princeton was charged with three errors.
“We ask a lot of our pitchers. We ask a lot of our infielders to make the routine plays,” Wilburn commented. “I felt like our defense wasn’t up to par tonight considering the pitching performance we got.
“The run support just wasn’t there. Every inning we talked to the guys to be patient and put the ball into play. We just didn’t get it.
“We put a little pressure on them and we were able to squeeze out two runs and win the baseball game. Against more competitive conference schools, that’s going to be a hard ballgame to win with the run support we got tonight.”
The Tigers (8-6) return to action today at Hunnicutt Field against Greenbrier East beginning at 5 p.m. with the varsity game. The two teams played earlier this season with Princeton winning. Oak Hill visits Wyoming East today at 5:30 p.m.
This is a big game for both teams as the Tigers and Spartans will meet in the postseason play.
“It’s kind of one of those things were we’re feeling each other out,” Wilburn said. “We know we have to face each other in a three-game series in our section. Right now, we’re feeling each other out trying to get into the bullpen to see what type of pitching.
“They’re scouting us and we’re scouting them. It’s almost a mind game with each other. We don’t want to show each other our best pitchers.
“We went up there and I believe we saw their number four pitcher which tells you they didn’t want to show us any pitching. Sometimes we do the same. We like to get some guys in there and try to hold back our guns and not show them anything until we get to the sectional.”
At Hunnicutt Field
Oak Hill..........................................000 010 0 – 1
Princeton.......................................002 000 x – 2
Wood, Bo Williams (7) and Perry, Wood (7). Hysell and Lokant. WP- Wood; LP- Hysell; S- Williams HR- None.