By Robert Edmonds - email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- Resiliency and determination resulted in a win as Warren County handed Page County its fifth consecutive loss in baseball action on Monday night.
The Wildcats fell behind early thanks in large part to their own struggles in the field. Despite plenty of opportunities, Warren County could not manage to cut the deficit until the sixth inning. The Wildcats exploded for six runs in the inning to take the lead before narrowly holding on in a 9-8 victory.
"I think this win was key for our program," Wildcats coach Vernon Mathews said. "We have had to learn to do stuff like we did tonight. We've been in situations where we needed to perform and we weren't able to. Tonight, we stayed within ourselves and made it happen."
Trailing 6-2, the Wildcats found themselves with the bases loaded and no outs to start the fifth inning. Ryan Tierney came to the plate and grounded into a double play that scored a run, but the Wildcats squandered the chance for more.
Page County answered in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3, when Sean Pangle drove a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring teammate Brandon Hensley and extending the lead again to four.
"We had too many defensive errors," Mathews said. We had a lot of walks and six defensive errors, and that defensive stuff we have to work on."
Down four runs, Warren needed to respond and quickly. The Wildcats answered the call this time. Cody Hindman delivered a single for his first varsity hit to lead off the inning. The next two batters walked to load the bases with no outs once again.
"Props to Cody Hindman tonight," Mathews said. "That hit was big for him and big for the team. We have struggled getting the leadoff hitter on all year and his hit was key in starting the rally."
Two batters later, Cody Zimmerman knocked a bloop single just over the third baseman's outstretched arm to score a run and start the rally. Another run scored on a fielder's choice, and Tierney found himself again with a chance to deliver.
After battling with the pitcher for what seemed like an eternity, Tierney knocked a shot to right field that fell just out of the outfielder's reach, bounced on the foul line and rolled into the corner.
Tierney cleared the bases with a triple and gave his team the lead for the first time in the game. Will Hoffmaster drove Tierney in to add an insurance run, giving the Wildcats a 9-7 edge heading into the final inning.
"The more you see a pitcher, the more you can try to key in on what they are doing," Tierney said. "We knew we had to get something going, and we woke up and got our bats rolling when we needed to."
Wildcats pitcher Tyler Post struggled against the Panthers lineup in the seventh, loading the bases and forcing Mathews to go to the bullpen. Mathews called on Tierney to come in and get his team out of the jam. The sophomore delivered once again.
After striking out the first batter he faced, Tierney gave up a run, but an impressive dig from Post at shortstop recorded another out. After Tierney gave up a walk to Tyler Turner, Pangle sent a dribbler back to the mound that Tierney fielded easily and threw to first to complete the game and solidify the victory for the Wildcats.
"I went to the bullpen to try to work on my pitches, so when I came in I felt I was ready," Tierney said. "Post made a good play in the hole to get an out and that was big for us to finish off the inning. We have high hopes for this season and this comeback is positive for us. We hope to carry this momentum to tomorrow night in our first district game and hopefully we can come out with a 'W.'"
"It's pretty obvious what happened," Panthers coach Jimmy Burke said. "We had opportunities, but didn't drive in the runs. We have to do a better job when we have runners in scoring position. To have the bases juiced in the seventh and only come up with one run is not acceptable."