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Back-to-back doubles in the eighth inning lift the Mountaineers over the Terriers for the regular-season district title.
Friday, May 17, 2013
BUCHANAN — It took an extra game and an extra inning to determine the regular-season baseball champion of the Blue Ridge District.
Pitcher Mark Hendricks tossed his glove in the air in celebration after Alleghany beat William Byrd 6-5 in eight innings Friday in a special playoff for the district regular-season title at James River High School.
“That was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” said Hendricks, a senior who went the distance to earn the win. “That was awesome.”
Alleghany (16-4) reaped a Region III tournament bid, as well as the top seed in next week’s district tournament.
It was career win No. 501 for Gary Rice, who is in his 34th season as Alleghany’s coach. Rice, 68, tied former Liberty coach Jim Cutler for third place on the VHSL’s career baseball wins list.
“I can’t be happier for him,” Hendricks said.
“I’m just glad that the kids toughened up and made the plays and got the job done,” Rice said.
Thanks to the No. 8 and No. 9hitters in the batting order, Alleghany scored a run off Radford signee Collin Hill in the top of the eighth.
After Nick Ferrell doubled to center field, Trent Rust hit an RBI double to center. It was the first hit of the game for each player.
“We’ve been preparing for Hill all week,” Rust said. “I was looking for that first-pitch strike.”
“I thought I made a few pretty good pitches on those doubles,” Hill said. “Both of those were on fastballs. They just caught up to it. They saw it for eight innings.”
William Byrd (13-7) had tied the Mountaineers atop the district standings with a 7-3 mark.
“Beating [Lord] Botetourt for [Rice’s No.] 500 was unreal,” Hendricks said. “This is even better.”
Hendricks pitched a six-hitter, striking out seven and walking five.
Hill also pitched a complete game. The left-hander threw an eight-hitter, striking out nine and walking four.
“I wasn’t going to come out unless they forced me to,” Hill said.
Alleghany scored a run in the top of the fifth to grab a 5-4 lead. Derek O’Connor had an infield hit, advanced on a passed ball and a wild pitch, and scored on Alex Javins’ RBI single.
William Byrd tied the score in the bottom of the fifth on a walk, a grounder, a wild pitch and an error by O’Connor at first base.
The Terriers threatened in the seventh, but Hendricks retired Dustin Boothe on a grounder with men on first and third to get out of the jam.
Hill and Timmy Meador each had two hits and one RBI for Byrd. Teammate Brandon Harless had a two-RBI double.
Alleghany trailed 4-3 after three innings.
“We don’t play perfect,” Rice said. “We score some runs. We get some good pitching at times. We get some poor defense at times. But we don’t give up.
“We’ve kind of played ugly, but we’ve won a lot more than we’ve lost.”
Alleghany 300 110 01 — 6 8 2
William Byrd 202 010 00 — 5 6 1
Hendricks and Shifflett; Hill and Boothe. W— Hendricks. L— Hill.
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