By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
You could call it a pre-postseason game. You could also call it a dandy.
James Monroe scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth, after PikeView tallied three runs in the top half, and the Mavericks clinched the top seed in the sectional tournament with a 6-5 extra-inning win in Lindside Friday night.
Cory Lilly’s single ended it, immediately after Ryan Page drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double to deep right field. Page went 2-for-3 and drove in five runs.
Both teams put their aces on the mound. Caleb Brown struck out 10 and gave up one walk and nine hits in eight-plus innings for the James Monroe Mavericks. The PikeView Panthers’ Kevin Cottle went seven innings with eight strikeouts, six hits, six walks and two runs allowed.
James Monroe coach John Mustain said, “Kevin pitched well. Caleb pitched well. It’s just one of those games where you hate to see anybody lose. You really do.”
Lilly said, “Both pitchers did awesome.”
Mustain said it was “very gratifying to be able to come back like that. I think I’m probably like everybody in this park, after the top of the ninth I thought it was over.
“But we battled back. We did what we needed to do. You’ve got to give all the credit in the world to PikeView, for what their team did.”
PikeView head coach Josh Wyatt said, “We did everything we could to win, but James Monroe came up with it in the bottom of the ninth.”
The game ended PikeView’s 10-game winning streak. That streak began immediately after James Monroe had beaten PikeView by a single run, 4-3 on April 12.
“We’ve been playing good ball,” Wyatt said. “We just didn’t take advantage of opportunities early in the game. ...
“We’re too good of a team not to be getting those runs in.”
Page drove in the game’s first two runs with a two-out shot to left field in the third inning, bringing home Brown and Caleb Wickline.
PikeView’s Zach Meadows knocked a two-out double to left in the fourth, scoring Austin Cordell. But PikeView left five stranded in the first four innings.
Panthers’ leadoff man Hunter Moses was 3-for-5 at the plate. He got the first of his two RBIs in the fifth with a long drive to right field, getting Carter Shrewsbury to the plate and tying the game 2-2.
It stayed that way for awhile.
James Monroe loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh. Lilly smacked a hard grounder to third base, where PikeView freshman Jon Clark knocked it down as he fell to the dirt. He got up and threw to home plate, forcing out Devin Carr for the second out.
Lilly stood on first base after the fielder’s choice. He then started walking toward the home dugout, thinking the third out had been made. Cottle jogged off the mound and tagged him, forcing extra innings.
Lilly said, “We made — myself included — made a lot of key errors in the beginning that really put us back against the wall. But I’m proud of both teams, with their backs against the wall, stepping up to the plate and battling ’til the end.”
PikeView led off the ninth with back-to-back singles from Clark and Ryan Roberts. Both runners scored via Mavericks’ errors. Moses singled home Shrewsbury for a 5-2 lead before the Mavs’ ended the outburst with a double play.
As the James Monroe team returned to its dugout, Page said the team was saying, “Don’t be an out. Don’t put yourself in that situation where you’re going to make an out.”
Lilly said, “We’d been making solid contact all day. I knew we could hit the ball. We just had to step up, be patient, and do what we know how to do.”
With relief pitcher Meadows on the mound for PikeView, James Monroe got a single from Brown. Carr reached on an error and Micah Deskins drew a walk on a 3-2 count. Page launched his second RBI double to bring all three in and tie the game.
Then Lilly smacked the game-winning hit down the third-base line.
Page said about Lilly, “We had faith in him that he’d pull through for us, and he did.”
Mustain’s son John Mustain relieved Brown in the ninth with the bases loaded and no outs, and got the pitching win. He was also 2-for-4 at bat.
Page, a senior, said it was one of his best games as a varsity player. “I was just trying to get around the bases, and trying to help my team get a few runs around,” he said.
“A couple of summers ago, me and Kevin (Cottle) played summer ball together. We’ve kept in contact ever since. We’re really good friends. ... Kevin’s a great pitcher; I’m taking nothing at all away from Kevin.”
“I get in there (in the batter’s box), and me and him both are smiling from ear to ear. It’s good times, good baseball.”
Carr said, “Coach told us PikeView is a really, really strong team. We made some mistakes, but we made up for it on offense and on defense.”
He said locking up the No. 1 seed in the sectional “feels so good. We get the first-round bye. It means a lot.”
The Mavericks played River View in a late-starting doubleheader game on Friday night, and host Greenbrier East on Monday.
PikeView is scheduled to play at Princeton today at noon, and will be on the road for three straight games next week.
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com
At James Monroe High School
PikeView....................000 110 003 — 5 10 2
James Monroe..........002 000 004 — 6 9 5
Kevin Cottle, Zach Meadows (8) and Hunter Moses. Caleb Brown, John Mustain (9) and Ryan Page. WP - Mustain. LP - Meadows. Leading hitters: PV: Hunter Moses, 3-5, 2 RBI; Carter Shrewsbury, 2-4; Zach Meadows, 1-4, double, RBI. JM: Ryan Page 2-3, 5 RBI; John Mustain, 2-4, double.