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Totaling twice as many errors as hits is not the usual path to victory for a baseball team at any level, but Hunt High added some sparkling defensive play and aggressive base running to the formula and came up with a 4-3 win over Perquimans County in the final game of the Wilson Tobs High School Varsity Baseball Classic on Saturday evening at Fleming Stadium.
The 3-A Big East Conference Warriors managed just two hits and made four errors but survived to win their eighth game without a loss.
“I’m happy we won because we came back and made the plays we needed to make to come back, but as a coach, you want perfection,” Hunt head coach Jon Smith said.
The Warriors, despite their record, were far from perfect Saturday. Pirates freshman left-hander Tanner Thach kept Hunt bats frozen for three hitless innings to start the game, but like Smith, Perquimans head coach Justin Robertson had a scripted pitching plan for the 1-A Albemarle Conference Pirates (6-3), who were coming off a 4-3 loss to Nash Central on Friday night in the Varsity Classic. Thach, who struck out four of the nine batters he faced, exited the mound in favor of junior Braden Jordan.
“I’m glad they took him out,” Smith admitted.
It didn’t take long for the Warriors to make the most of the change. Senior Trey Dail legged out an infield single for Hunt’s first hit before Jordan walked Gavin Huff and hit Blake Daniels to load the bases. Patrick Clark drew another base on balls to force in Dail and tie the score 1-1. Cody Mercer hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Huff and the Warriors got a third run on a wild pitch.
Hunt, which had three stolen bases, added a huge insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Clark singled with one out and reached second on a fielder’s choice before a wild pitch and a passed ball brought him home. Pirates pitchers totaled eight walks, a hit batter and four wild pitches in the game.
“They’re a good team,” Smith said. “All their pitching was good but we were mighty fortunate because, on the whole, we didn’t play well enough to win but we did make some big defensive plays.”
Indeed, the Warriors flashed as much as they fizzled afield. Dail scooped up Thach’s two-out double in the first inning and hit cut-off man Jarrett Aycock, who relayed the ball to catcher Chase Waddell for the tag on Jordan trying to score from first.
The Pirates, who left the bases full in the fourth, were victimized by two Hunt double plays. One was unassisted by second baseman Blaize Keen and the other 6-4-3 from Huff at short to Keen to Aycock at first to end the fifth after Perquimans had already scored a run.
Starting pitcher Blake Daniels (2-0), a junior right-hander, picked up the win after pitching 3 1/3 innings. Smith had originally planned to let Daniels go just three innings but he was sharp enough to stay on the mound in the fourth.
“He pitched well,” Smith said. “He hadn’t pitched since the Aycock game (March 13) and I wanted to get him out there because we’re going to need him.”
Huff came on in the fourth and escaped trouble with the bases loaded on third baseman Tyson Bass’ back-handed stab of a hard shot that turned into a groundout.
Bass pitched the last 2 2/3 innings to get his first save. He allowed one run, an RBI single by Nathan Scaff in the top of the seventh, and gave up four of the nine hits allowed by Hunt. With runners on first and second, Bass struck out Jacob Godfrey and Shelton Nixon to end the game.
The Warriors will have a mostly steady diet of Big East competition over the next few weeks. While Smith agreed that performances like Hunt’s on Saturday won’t usually result in wins, he’s encouraged with his team’s ability to pull out a win.
“We’re not by any means good yet but we’ve got a chance to be good,” he said. “Tonight was an example of a team being scrappy and fighting for a way to win.”
Score by innings:
Perquimans 001 010 1 — 3
Hunt 000 301 x — 4
WP-Blake Daniels (2-0) 3 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO. LP-Braden Jordan. S-Tyson Bass (1) 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO.
LEADING HITTERS: Perquimans: Braden Jordan 3-4, 2B, 2 R; Tanner Thach 1-3, BB; Tyler Futrell 2-4; Nathan Scaff 1-4, 2 RBIs; Spencer Loftis 1-3, 2B. Hunt: Trey Dail 1-3, R; Patrick Clark 1-2, R, RBI, SB; Cody Mercer 0-2, RBI, SB.