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|Eagles are perfect in extra frames|
Franklin County skipper Barry Shelton (right) carries on a discussion with the home plate umpire concerning what he considered to be a substitution infraction by Cave Spring. (Staff Photo by Steven Marsh)
Friday, March 15, 2013
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
Luckily for Franklin County's baseball program, its varsity players are not paid time-and-a-half for extra-inning games.
Through two games this season, playing past the seventh inning has paid dividends for the Eagles, who are 2-0 courtesy of wins in games lasting eight innings.
Wednesday, FCHS pushed the winning run across the plate in the bottom of the eighth for a 4-3 non-district triumph over long-time diamond nemesis Cave Spring in its 2013 home opener at W.W. Naff Jr. Field.
"We don't mind playing overtime,' second-year Eagles skipper Barry Shelton said. "I'm not sure what we do translates into wins and losses, but we are going to be fun to watch.
"We never quit. We play every pitch, one pitch at a time, and that's what I love about this group.' Shelton said.
And Shelton may be enamored with his team's youth too -- Wednesday's starting line-up featured sophomores at first base (Logan Alger), second base (Ryan Brewer), shortstop (Brett Simmons) and third base (Jared Bridges). Also, Shelton employed sophomore righthander Braxton Wheeler in middle relief.
FCHS rallied from a 3-1 deficit by scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to force extra frames.
In the last of the eighth, second baseman Ryan Brewer drew a walk and moved into scoring position when Knights first baseman Brett Meyers committed an error on a sacrifice bunt by Jessy Pendleton.
Brewer and Pendleton each advanced a base on Logan Alger's sacrifice and Brewer came home with the game-winning on leftfielder Kyle Ellis' base hit that got through the right side of the infield with Cave Spring's shortstop and third baseman charging in on the pitch delivered by reliever Alex Emory, who was charged with the loss.
Ellis' game-winning hit came in his first varsity at bat.
"You never know when it's going to be your opportunity and Kyle came through for us,' said Shelton, who surmised that Cave Spring may have been anticipating a safety squeeze (bunt) because "Kyle hadn't hit all night.'
Small ball, as the bunting game is called, proved to be most effective for the Eagles.
"Everybody is going to bunt. The only person in this organization who is not going to bunt is me,' Shelton said.
Pendleton, the Eagles' closer, faced eight batters in the seventh and eighth frames. Of the 29 pitches he threw, 25 were for strikes.
"We've got a closer,' Shelton said. "He shut it down for us and he did the same thing at Patrick County (an 8-4 FCHS win in eight innings).'
Pendleton (1-0) struck out three and surrendered two hits.
One of those was a lead-off double by Cave Spring's Ryan Flora in the top of the eighth.
Afterwards, Pendleton retired the side in order on two strikeouts and a pop-up that was caught by Alger in foul territory.
Senior catcher Ryan Peevey paced a seven-hit FCHS attack with two hits, while Pendleton registered the Eagles' lone extra-base hit: a one-out triple in the bottom of the fourth.
Jake Schuyler collected two hits for the Knights, who finished with seven hits, two of which were doubles.