The Watuaga High baseball team was in a generous mood Thursday night. The Pioneers (3-1) made five errors and dropped an 8-6 decision to North Davidson in a non-conference game in Lexington. The Black Knights
(3-3), who won their second game in a row, wiped out a 3-0, first-inning deficit with a five-run explosion of their own in the bottom of the first.
The Black Knights scored five runs, thanks to three walks, a hit batsman, two wild pitches, a single and a costly two-base error.
"I told my players before the game that North Davidson wasn't going to give us the game," said WHS coach Pete Hardee. "We're going to have to take it. We got off to a good start with three runs right away, but then we gave it away. It wasn't a good performance. We made too many errors and we didn't throw strikes."
The Pioneers have now made eight errors in their last two games. Ryan Turner (0-1), who made his first start of the year, suffered the loss. He coughed up five runs, three earned, with one hit with three walks. As a pitching staff, the PIoneers gave up five walks.
The Black Knights added an insurance run thanks to a throwing error in the second inning; and they put the game out of reach on a two-run homer off the bat of Andrew Mayton in the third. That blow gave North Davidson a commanding 8-4 lead.
The Pioneers made it 8-6 with a two-run rally in the sixth, and they had the tying runs on base with one out in the seventh before relief pitcher Drew Beaver enduced a double-play ball off the bat of Max Linville to end the game.
"I was proud of the way we fought back," Hardee said. "And we had the tying runs on base in the seventh. Max hit the ball hard, but it was right at the second baseman and they turned the double play. But we put ourselves in that position by not playing well."
Tripp Taylor and Taylor Shuford kept the Pioneers in contention. Taylor went 3 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits with a strikeout. Shuford went unblemished in his first appearance of the year. He went 3 1/3 innings and gave up a pair of walks.
"Those guys did a good job keeping us close," Hardee said. "It was good to see that because we're going to be counting on those guys a lot next year. It's tough to lose like this, but North Davidson is a quality team and they took advantage of our mistakes."
Shuford was WHS's most productive hitter. He had two hits and two RBI. His infield, run-scoring single in the third got WHS within two runs at 6-4. Linville had two hits in five trips with a double and a run scored; Matt Proffitt had a base hit and drove in a run; Tyler Jones drove in a run. The Pioneers made 11 hits, but they left ten men on base, six in scoring position, they lost a runner and hit into a double play.
The Pioneers travel to LP Fran Stadium in Hickory tonight to play the Hickory Red Tornadoes. Hickory (5-0) is undefeated and the Red Tornadoes have not given up a run this season. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m. on Oldies 100.7 FM
NOTES: North Davidson defeated the JV team, 6-1. Hunter Isaacs drove in WHS's only run with an RBI single. Trevor Eggers, Carson Isaacs and Justin Greer each had a hit.....First baseman Clint Trivette is out three weeks with a hairline fracture in his right hand. He was injuried at Mount Tabor on March 1. The WHS senior has also made a verbal commitment to play football at Brevard College next fall. Brevard College is a Division II school located in Brevard, N.C., and a member of the South Atlantic Conference.....WHS senior Matt Proffitt will attend Brevard to play baseball next fall. He signed his National Letter of Intent in November.
THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAMES
NORTH DAVIDSON 8, WATAUGA 6
BUNKER HILL 6, ST. STEPHENS 2
FRIDAY NIGHT'S GAMES
WATAUGA v. HICKORY @ LP FRAN STADIUM
SOUTH CALDWELL @ ST. STEPHENS
ALEXANDER CENTRAL @ FRED T. FOARD
WEST CALDWELL @ HIBRITEN
ALEXANDER CENTRAL @ PROVIDENCE