Prep Baseball: Bulldogs’ rally falls short against Bucs

Published 7:51 am Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It was controversy times three on a cold and rainy Tuesday as Hampton took on University High in Watauga Valley Conference baseball. Three disputed calls went against the Bulldogs to help thwart a Hampton comeback and help the Junior Buccaneers to a 7-6 victory.
In the early going, it looked like an UH rout was in progress as the Bucs scored six runs in the top of the second against Bulldogs ace left-hander Wyatt Lyons. Carter Pollack opened the frame with a single to left and was safe at second on an infield error on a ball off the bat of Jakob Hare putting UH runners on first and second.
Brant Hare then dropped a textbook bunt down the third-base line for a single to load the bases and Jake Oligny delivered a RBI single to right. The Bucs (12-5, 4-3 WVC) played it station to station once again when A.J. Simerly delivered a two-out RBI hit to give UH a 2-0 lead.
Leadoff hitter Cas Blevins then struck a double to centerfield to plate two more runs. A wild pitch plated another and put a runner on third, and a passed ball scored the sixth run of the inning and emptied the bases.
“It was a well-fought ball game,” Junior Bucs head coach Josh Petty said. “There were a couple of questionable rule calls and unfortunately it always goes against one side or the other.”
The Bulldogs (4-7, 4-4WVC) struck for four runs in the last of the third as Bucs starter Jack Bembry battled wildness and walked four Bulldog batters in the frame and plunked another. Bembry walked both David Fleenor, Jacob Byrd and Alton Clark with the bases loaded to force in runs and Brenden Ailport dropped a RBI hit into short centerfield to make it a 6-4 contest.
UH scored a single run in the top of the fifth and it proved to be the margin of victory. Pollack reached on an infield single, and Brant Hare reached on an infield error. Oligny singled up the middle for the RBI hit to make it 7-4.
In the last of the inning, the first controversial call came when Gavin Hardin singled to lead off, and Clark bashed a double into the gap in left-centerfield that went to the fence. Hardin rumbled around the bases and slid into the plate only to be called out. Head coach Matt Hardin argued the call to no avail, and the inning ended with strikeouts by Ailport and Brett Deaton.
In the sixth Lyons surrendered a single to Blevins and a walk to Hunter Seehorn and was replaced on the mound by Dalton Rouse.
“He told me he was tired,” Hardin said.
In the bottom of the inning, Lyons reached on a walk and promptly stole second. Then just two pitches later he bolted for third as Seehorn fired from his catcher’s position and Lyons was called out at third on the steal attempt. This prompted another argument from the Hampton side who clearly felt Lyons had beaten the throw, but once again their argument went unheeded.
Ironically Dru Owens then singled to left field which may have scored the speedy Lyons from second had he not attempted to steal, but the inning went by the boards as reliever Jakob Hare struck out Dalton Blair and induced a comebacker to David Fleenor to end the threat.
In the seventh came the final controversy as Hardin singled with one out and both Clark and Rouse walked to load the bases. Deaton then hit a hump back liner toward shortstop scoring one run and leaving the bases loaded, but Petty argued for runner interference on the play, and it was upheld.
On the play with Clark at second when the ball was hit, he stood his ground not knowing if the liner would be caught or not and UH shortstop Simerly had to go around him to make a play which he failed to.
Now down to their last out Lyons ripped a RBI single to right putting Hampton runners on first and third. Lyons then proceed to walk toward second base in an attempt to draw a throw and get into a rundown situation, but the runner on third did not come halfway. Nonetheless, Lyons reached second base, but Owens grounded to short for the final out leaving the ‘Dogs on the short side of the scoreboard.

University High 7-6
University High 060 010 0 – 7 12 2
Hampton 004 000 2 – 6 11 3
W – Bembry L – Lyons
LOB – UH 9, H 10. 2B – Blevins, Clark, Hardin.

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