Bengals end Byrd’s baseball season one win shy of regional

Byrd coach Neil Zimmerman works on the infield prior to Saturday’s game.
After about three hours the field was playable. PHOTO BY BRIAN HOFFMAN
Byrd’s Derrick Chocklett fires to first for an out Saturday.

The Bassett baseball team proved to be as good as advertised Monday night, as the top seed in Conference 24 eliminated William Byrd from the post-season tournament. Bassett took a 3-0 shutout win over the Terriers at Hooker Field in Martinsville.

“They were the best offensive team I’ve seen all year,” said Byrd coach Neil Zimmerman. “They only scored three runs but they hit a lot of balls hard.”

The Bengals scored the only run they would need in the first inning, and it was unearned. Then, pro prospect Nate Perry drilled a two run homer in the bottom of the fifth for some insurance. Perry is a 6’3”, 215 pound catcher that hits lefthanded and is batting around .650 for the season.

Bryce Boothe pitched for Byrd and kept the Terriers in the game. He pitched the first five innings before Brendan Draughn pitched the sixth.

Byrd had just four hits for the game, but the Terriers managed to threaten in the top of the seventh. Mitch Lyle reached on an error with one out, and after a second out Hunter Meador doubled to put runners on second and third. Bryce Ellis walked to load the bases and bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate, but Grant Watson flied out to left as Bassett escaped with the win.

Bassett was scheduled to play Salem in the conference semifinal, and both teams will advance to Region 4A West play. Byrd finished 8-14 for the season but the Terriers were coming on strong and were one win away from making the regional.

Last week in Rockbridge Byrd took a 15-9 win in Lexington in the last game of the regular season. Boothe and Lyle had three RBIs each and Watson and Jay Trail drove in two each in a win that gave Byrd a home game for the first round of the conference tournament.

On Saturday night the Terriers hosted Carroll County in a quarterfinal C-24 game. After a delay of about three hours to get the field in playable condition the Byrdmen made the groundskeeping work pay off with an 8-2 win. Derrick Chocklett struck out 12 in six innings and Adam North closed out the game with two punch-outs in the seventh. Lyle was three-for-three and Meador had two runs batted in. Gehrig Spradlin had a double.

That set up Monday’s game with Bassett, and that’s where the season came to an end. The Terriers had a losing record but Zimmerman saw a lot of character.

“We lost a lot of close games, but our kids really battled,” he said. “They never quit and they just ran out of steam against a real good team. They gave me everything they had and they have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Byrd will lose 11 seniors off this team. Zimmerman will have just seven juniors or sophomores returning next year so there will be jobs open.

“We’ll have a lot of competition next year,” he said. “It’s wide open.”

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