BASTIAN, Va. — The Bears left too many ducks on the pond.
The Bland County Bears stranded 10 players on base and the Rebels of Patrick Henry High School collected a dozen hits to defeat the Bears 11-1 on Saturday during the final day of the Yo-Na Invitational Baseball Tournament.
The Rebels’ victory clinched fifth place in the annual small-school event at Skip Dillow Memorial Field on a sunny, cool afternoon.
Trey Compton batted 2 for 3 for Bland County (1-3), both of his hits being doubles. After his two-bagger to lead off the third inning, he stole a base and came home on a groundout by Cameron Jackson to tie the contest 1-1.
The solid-hitting Rebels (6-2) amassed the balance of the scoring. Bears’ starting pitcher Jake Watters lost his edge in the fifth inning, allowing the first four batters to reach base, before he was lifted from the mound. All four scored, as did Cody Smith, the first man faced by reliever Collin Grady.
Watters, a senior who has committed to play baseball for West Virginia University, “was doing really well,” said Bland County head coach Chris Jackson. “I guess fatigue got to him. This is only the second game he’s pitched (this season).”
Watters threw 86 pitches, 51 of them for strikes. He struck out nine Rebels, gave up five hits and allowed four walks -- three of which came around to score. At the plate, Watters was 2 for 3 and stole a base.
Grady, described by Jackson as “consistent (and) solid” in the pitching department, collected strikes on 20 of his 28 pitches in relief. He gave up six hits, half of them doubles.
Shane Ramsey recorded the Bears’ other hit.
Seven Bland County errors contributed to the loss. The Bears were designated the visiting team though they were on their home field.
The 10-run rule ended the game in the bottom of the sixth. Josh Presley and Smith issued back-to-back RBI doubles and Landon Smithson followed with a single to deep right that got Smith home with the final run.
Smith was 3 for 4 at the plate for Patrick Henry and Josh Presley drove in two runs on a 2-for-4 day. Senior James Eldreth had a single and drew three walks, scoring three runs for the Rebels.
Patrick Henry head coach Tommy Thomas said that due to weather and an eight-game early schedule, “We had, like, one practice in the last two weeks. ... We’re early in the year. We’re lucky to have a group of kids that go at it hard.”
Eldreth fits that description. In addition to his offensive output, he pitched the first three innings, leaving the mound with the game tied. Colby Taylor took his place and gave up just one hit in the other three innings to claim the pitching victory.
Thomas said about Eldreth’s pitching, “When he’s hitting locations and his off-speed pitch is working, he’s hard to hit. He’s deceptive.”
Jackson said the Bears left “way too many” potential runs on the bases Saturday.
“We had it tied up and could have taken the lead, but we left the bases loaded in the fourth,” he said. “Right now, to tell you the truth, our hitting is killing us. We can’t get hits going at the same time. It’s hit or miss ... .”
“Hopefully by the end of the coming week, that’ll be taken care of.”
Bland County will be back at it Monday, playing at Eastern Montgomery to start a busy week of three games. Jackson said his team is capable of putting Saturday’s loss behind them.
“We should be able to,” he said. “Sure, they’re upset that we lost, but they do a good job of not carrying it (a loss) with them. ... As long as we do that -- and get better in the (batter’s) box -- we’ll be all right.”
Thomas, now in his sixth season as the Rebels’ coach, was upbeat as his team prepared to leave Bastian.
“We’ve won 18 to 20 games, four years in a row,” he said, turning on his ready smile. “We’re trying to build a program that’s respectable and consistent.”
The two concluding games of the 2019 Yo-Na Tournament took place later on Saturday, and no results were immediately available. George Wythe and Northwood met in the third-place game, and Chilhowie and Rural Retreat faced off in the championship contest.
At Skip Dillow Memorial Field
Bland County.........010 000 -- 1 5 7
Patrick Henry.........100 154 -- 11 12 3
Jake Watters, Collin Grady (5) and Cameron Jackson. James Eldreth, Colby Taylor (4) and Landon Smithson. W - Taylor. L - Watters. HR - none.