District 1-A Baseball Tournament: Hampton falls on UH walkoff homer
Published 12:43 pm Saturday, May 7, 2016
JOHNSON CITY – Two things the Hampton Bulldogs could not overcome on Friday evening at Thomas Stadium were their own errors and University High pitcher Cas Blevins. Blevins struggled a bit on the mound in pitching a complete game, but he did not struggle at the plate going 4-for-5 with four runs batted in as the Junior Bucs rallied to an 8-7 victory.
Blevins stroked a two run inside the park home run in the last of the seventh for the game winner and had RBI’s in the second and sixth frames as well. The loss ends Hampton’s unfortunate season at 4-13 while the Bucs (11-13 overall) will face Unaka today at Pioneer Field on the campus of Tusculum College at 5 pm in the district tournament.
“When I saw he dove for it, I listened to my first base coach,” Blevins said. “And he was saying to take it all the way. Here at Thomas (Stadium) definitely you are always in scoring position when you get one in the gap.”
Things looked promising in the early going for Hampton as senior Jerry Lunsford helped the Bulldogs score three first inning runs when he walked to lead things off. Lunsford took off for second on a stolen base attempt and David Fleenor hit one right into the now open spot at second for a single putting runners on the corners.
The ‘Dogs pulled off a play that has been almost like bread and butter this season when Fleenor was picked off at first but he managed to stay alive in a run down while Lunsford scored from third. Fleenor also was safe on the play and he scored on an RBI single to center by Wyatt Lyons.
Lyons ended up at third when the ball went through the legs of the UH centerfielder and scored on a ground ball by pitcher Nash Eyrasa for a 3-0 Hampton lead.
Blevins collected his first hit of the game to lead off the last of the first and he scored on an RBI hit from Jakob Hare and an error by the ‘Dogs on a stolen base attempt allowed another run to cross to make it a 3-2 game.
“It all comes down to making plays and throwing strikes,” Hampton head coach Matt Blevins said. “We didn’t make the routine plays and you hate to see it end like that. But they all put in the effort, even the ones that don’t play much always came and practiced. They didn’t quit and they are a good bunch of kids.”
Each team scored a run in the second inning with Lunsford and Fleenor pulling off the same play as in the first frame for Hampton and the Bucs got their run on an RBI single from Blevins.
The ‘Dogs took a 6-3 lead in the third inning with third baseman Gavin Hardin bringing in one run with a double down the leftfield line and Austin Vines infield hit scoring another. Both pitchers settled down and posted scoreless fourth and fifth innings but Hampton struck for a run in the top of the sixth when Brett Deaton singled to open the stanza.
Vines bunted him up 90 feet and an infield single from Dru Owens put runners at the corners and Lunsford followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-3, Hampton.
In the Buccaneer sixth Esau Byrd singled and both Trevor Taylor and Lewis Wessner walked to load the bases with no outs. Lyons came on in relief of Eyrasa after Eyrasa’s free pass to Taylor and Lyons issued the walk to Wessner.
Blevins then stroked his third hit of the night bringing home a run and leaving the bases juiced for Dayshawn Hamilton who tapped to second base where Vines slipped on the turf. In doing so he got little on his throw to first as Hamilton crossed safely for another RBI that made it a 7-5 game.
Another play at second allowed the Bucs to push another run home as Vines fielded and threw to second to try and get a force play but the throw was not in time. Lyons got off the hook by striking out the last two hitters of the inning.
Lyons retired the first two hitters in the seventh on ground balls to second, but Vines could not handle Harry Stancil’s ground ball to his right bringing Blevins to the dish. Blevins took Lyons 1-0 pitch into the gap in right center where Lunsford made a diving attempt but the ball got past him and Stancil and Blevins both raced around the diamond. Blevins slid under the tag at the plate with his hand touching the dish an instant before Dalton Blair applied the tag.
“It’s funny that when you win the kids played well and if you lose it’s coaches fault,” joked Bucs head coach Josh Petty. “I’m glad they made me look good, but when Cas was coming around second I made a 100 percent commitment to send him. I figured even if he got thrown out we go extra innings, but I was not going to leave him at third.”
University High 8-7
Hampton 312 001 0 – 7 10 4
University High 210 003 2 – 8 6 4
W – Blevins L – Lyons
LOB – H 5, UH 9. HR – Blevins. 2B – Hardin (2).