BLUEFIELD — The 42nd annual Coppinger Invitational baseball tournament got underway Friday with the Fayetteville Pirates running away with an 18-3 victory over the Montcalm Generals in 4 1/2 innings at Bowen Field.
Sophomore Will Fenton presided on the mound for Fayetteville (8-5), limiting the Generals to four hits and two bases on balls while striking out six batters. He also smacked two run-scoring hits in each of the first two innings.
Dalton Dempsey led off with a triple for the Pirates and wound up scoring three runs. Froy Farrell added RBIs on a double and a triple. James Criss and C.J. Dooley were also 2 for 3 with two runs batted in.
Craig Casto singled and scored in the top of the initial inning as Montcalm (2-8) struck first, aided by Fenton hitting a batter to begin the game and then giving up back-to-back singles.
Shane Presley led off the fifth with a double and scored on the Pirates’ only error. Casto concluded the Generals’ scoring a few minutes later by reaching the plate on an RBI groundout by Travis Poynter.
In between, the Pirates took advantage of five Montcalm errors and banged out 15 hits to move on to the next round of the single-elimination Coppinger tournament.
Fayetteville head coach Dan Poland said, “Will struggled a little bit early, trying to get the ball over the plate with strikes. ... But I think he settled in. The offense gave him some runs.”
Fenton said about his early mistakes, “(You’ve) just got to shake that stuff off. You can’t think about it a whole lot. It’s the first inning, there’s a lot of the game to be played.
“We get through that, and we get on the sticks and we got on the board and we got that out of the way.”
He said about his teammates’ contributions, “It felt good, to know that they’re going to back me up, batting and in the field.”
Poland said, “We love coming down (for the Coppinger). It’s a great tournament ... It helps us for our postseason, and it’s a great atmosphere, especially if you can make it to Saturday (for the championship game).”
With a 12-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth, the Pirates substituted for their entire batting order — and scored six more runs.
Poland said about the mass substitutions, “Our older guys, they look forward to that. ... When they (the bench players) get in there, they don’t waste the opportunity.”
Montcalm, again double-dipping in regional baseball tournaments, will play today at 4 p.m. in the third-place game of the Yo-Na Invitational Tournament in Bastian, Va., against George Wythe High School.
Montcalm head coach Steven McClanahan said, “Playing in the Yo-Na at the same time, we were limited with our top pitchers as to how many innings they had. But you’ve got to play through it, the next-man-up philosophy ... .”
“We struggled a little bit today, making routine plays look a lot harder than what they needed to. But you’ve got to give Fayetteville the credit. They hit the ball, hit the ball well, hit the ball hard when they hit it.”
McClanahan said about the Copping, “The atmosphere’s great, to be able to get on a field like this.
“At the same time, our goal was to be able to play multiple games on this. We weren’t able to achieve that this year, but we’ll get back to it tomorrow, and keep working.
“Our main goal at the end of the year is starting sectionals. Everything up to then is glorified practice. We want to get some wins along the way but we know the main goal is the end of the year and having everybody on their ‘A game’ then.”
Fayetteville will play today at Oak Hill against Man, and on Tuesday in Coppinger action at Bowen Field against the winner of this afternoon’s game between Princeton and Grundy.
At Bowen Field
Montcalm....................100 02 — 3 4 5
Fayetteville..................363 6x — 18 15 1
Craig Casto, Dustin Williams (2), Tyler Poe (4) and Poe, Shane Presley (4). Will Fenton and Jake Cogar. WP - Fenton. LP - Casto. HR - none.