By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It was worth a try, but the rain caught up with Friday evening's second game of the Class AA, Region 3, Section 3 tournament.
PikeView pushed across a run in a downpour to take a 3-2 lead over James Monroe in the top of the third inning, just before a rain delay was called at Bowen Field.
The contest was suspended as water pooled on the uncovered infield. The game is scheduled to resume today at 4 p.m. on PikeView’s campus in Gardner, weather permitting.
PikeView head coach Josh Wyatt said, “Mother Nature’s done nothing but to make this more exciting. We’re just happy to still be playing ball here. We’ll try to go back to our place tomorrow and finish up.”
“We just have to come back (and) stick to our game plan.”
He recalled, “We dealt with this my first year, when we were down at Summers County. We were down there every day. We’d get down there, play a little bit, it’d rain us out, and we’d come back and play the next day.”
James Monroe head coach John Mustain said, “I knew there was a chance (of rain on Friday) evening, but ... I figured maybe a pop-up thunderstorm here and there.”
“There’s just not much you can do. Hopefully, we’ll get back on track with this game at PikeView (Saturday).”
Further complicating the plans is the double-elimination nature of the sectional tournament. If James Monroe wins, there will have to be a second championship game between the teams. That may or may not be able to happen this evening.
Mustain said, “We’ve got Thursday, Friday and Saturday to work with next week if we need it, which helps. But you know, you just want to get it done. I say that and people think I sound like I’m saying I’m tired of the season, but that’s not what I’m saying.”
“I want to get this section over with, and whoever wins it, it gives them a week to regroup, get some practice in and work on some things (prior to the Region 3 tournament). I hope we can get it done tomorrow, but the way it’s sounding, I don’t know.”
The Panthers scored in each of the first two innings, aided by James Monroe mistakes.
Austin Cordell got the game’s first hit and came home on a Mavericks throwing error in the first. Jon Clark led off the second with a double to left field. He advanced to third on another Mavs error, and dashed home on a passed ball.
Mustain said about the Mavericks, “This group, I can’t figure out sometimes what’s going on with them. We’ve had a very up-and-down year. Sometimes we look like ‘lights out,’ and sometimes ... .”
“It’s like this second game here. We start off with some errors, that really got us in a bind there.”
On offense, James Monroe did not feel the bind. Their first two batters, Ryan Wickline and Micah Deskins, got on base, and both scored. Ryan Page hit an infield groundout for an RBI and Cory Lilly plated a run with a single to shallow right field.
Wyatt said, “We kind of hurt ourselves early in the game today. We were falling behind, falling behind.”
He said that his starting pitcher, Zach Meadows, “knew he was leaving pitches up in the zone, and they were taking advantage of them.”
“He’s keeping them off-balance. They weren’t hitting them hard. But (the pitches) were up in their eyes, and James Monroe has good hitters. If they see that, they’re going to take advantage of it.”
Wyatt said, “Our plate appearances our first time through, I think we were a little over-anxious. That may have been due to me. I think we may have been a little bit too hyped to come out for a championship game.”
“We were taking (some) selfish swings, swinging for a big hit and not playing PikeView ball. The second time through, we started putting the ball in play, making them field it, and moving runners along.”
Big raindrops began to fall late in the second inning, which concluded with a sensational catch by PikeView outfielder Carter Shrewsbury of Wickline’s sinking fly ball.
As the rain intensified, PikeView’s Jordan Hardin beat out a grounder toward third base for a single. Back-to-back errors by James Monroe allowed him to advance around the diamond to home for the go-ahead run.
Then, after 43 minutes of play, with designated hitter Kevin Cottle facing a 3-1 count, everyone was waved into the dugout due to the rain and slick conditions.
The postponement of the contest changes the game plan some regarding pitching.
“Tomorrow, it means some arms get rest,” Wyatt said. “(Kevin) Cottle comes back into play now. ... He’s had his day off. He’ll be good to go tomorrow — if we need him. But we’ll rely on our big man (Meadows). He’ll get the job done.”
Mustain predicted that the weather delay was not a big concern for his team.
“I don’t think, one way or another, that anything really affects them,” he said. “They just go out and play.”
— Contact Tom Bone at