BASTIAN, Va. —
The Bland County Bears exploded for 16 hits and Andy Pauley pitched four strong innings to lead his team to a 15-5 five-inning win over the Craig County Rockets in the Yo-Na Tournament, Friday evening at Skip Dillow Field.
With the win the Bears move to the tournament championship game tonight at 6:30 p.m. against George Wythe.
The Bears sent nine batters to the plate in the second and grabbed a lead it never relinquished. Kalub Lambert’s two-run double plated the first runs of the game and Zach Gwyn later added a one-run double. Connect those big hits with three Craig County errors and Bland County led 6-0 with the Rockets coming to bat in the bottom of the second.
“We started in the second inning hitting the ball real well, everybody was putting it in play,” said Bland County head coach Norman Dillow. “We took advantage of some errors they had. I always preach that we have to capitalize on mistakes. We did that tonight, hit the ball, put it in play and made them field it.”
The Rockets starting pitcher Alex Carper doubled and moved to third on an error. He later scored on Cody Robertson’s hit to left. Craig County added a second run in the inning, the result of a Bland County error.
Neither team scored in the third. In the fourth the Bears once again exploded, scoring eight runs on eight hits on two Craig County errors. The big knock was a bases loaded triple by Tyler Faulkner. Lambert knocked in one run with a single and Gwyn brought home two with a hit.
Trevor Edwards tripled and scored in the fourth for the Rockets and the Bears added a final run thanks to another Craig County error in the top of the fifth.
In gaining the pitching victory Pauley pitched the first four innings for Bland County. He allowed three runs, two of them unearned, on four hits and struck out six.
“Andy did a good job. He stayed in the strike zone and he kept them swinging the bats,” Coach Dillow said. “His off-speed pitch has been working all year and he relied heavily on it tonight and he threw it for strikes. It kept them off-balance and allowed us to defend behind him.”
Chase Dillow came on for the Bears in the fifth. The Rockets scored two runs on three hits and Dillow picked up one strikeout.
“That’s one of our JV kids that we brought up for this week so we would have a little bit of depth and he did very well,” Coach Dillow said. “He came in and threw strikes, made them swing the bats and put the ball in play. He didn’t walk anybody and kept his composure.”
Carper worked the entire game for Craig County. He allowed 16 hits, walked six and struck out eight.
Tyler White, Gwyn, Pauley each had three hits to lead the Bears. Lambert and Mason Christian had a pair of hits.
Edwards and Jason Shires had two hits apiece for the Rockets.
Craig County will play Montcalm at 10 this morning for fifth place while Bland County, now 4-2-1 will take on George Wythe in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. Since losing its first two games of the season against Radford, the Bears have not been defeated. The tie is a game with Graham which will be completed at a later date. Coach Dillow talked about the tournament and the upcoming game with the Maroons.
“We’ve played pretty well this week, had a couple of lapses,” Coach Dillow said. “Our defense has played great. George Wythe is a good team and we’ve got to play our best to come out on top.”
Lambert will take the ball for Bland County in the title game.
“It is his turn in the rotation,” Coach Dillow said. “This year we’ve got three good pitchers and we’re going to use a rotation rather than doing match-ups.”
This is the fifth annual Yo-Na Tournament and Coach Dillow said the event is important for the team and people of Bland County.
“This tournament means a lot to the community,” Coach Dillow said. “The fans support it and we enjoy the schools coming to our facility. The money we make really helps our program and relieves the Board (of Education) in what they give us to operate.”
The other games have Eastern Montgomery playing Hurley at 1 p.m. for seventh place and Castlewood meets Rural Retreat at 3 p.m. for third place.
At Skip Dillow Field
Bland County................060 81 — 15 16 2
Craig County.................020 12 — 5 7 6
Pauley, Dillow (5) and Miller; Carper and Ratliff.