Walthall Park in Vinton will be the site of a rematch of last week’s pitchers’ dual between the William Byrd and Salem baseball teams.
The Spartans squeeked out a 1-0 win last Friday when the same two met at Kiwanis Field in Salem, and they’ll go at it again today.
Last week’s game matched Byrd’s Bryce Booth and Salem’s Trevor Austin, and the two combined to give up just four hits in last week’s game. It came down to the last out and ended in unusual fashion, with a double play that didn’t include a batted ball.
First things first, Byrd sophomore Booth got his first high school varsity start and he was fantastic on the mound. He had a no-hitter through five innings, but hit his counterpart, Austin, with a pitch to lead off the sixth. Booth struck out the next two hits but a stolen base moved the courtesy runner to second, when then scored on a seeing eye single up the middle by Jacob Dodd. That would be the only hit Booth would give up in the game.
Byrd had a golden opportunity to go ahead, or at least tie the game, in the top of the seventh. Macon Hale led off with a double and Mitchell Lyle was hit by a pitch. Gehrig Spradlin then walked to load the bases with no outs.
Booth was up next and his fly to shallow center was caught by Salem outfielder Noah Beckley. Zimmerman held Hale at third.
“Beckley(Salem’s all-state quarterback) has a strong arm and he was running in on the play,” said Zimmerman. “I didn’t want to get an out at the plate in that situation.”
Max Kinney, a normally reliable bunter, was up next. Zimmerman called for the squeeze but Max couldn’t get one down, and Hale was caught in a rundown between third and home. He was called out for running out of the baseline, then Lyle was thrown out attempting to take third to end the game.
“It happened so fast, and then the game was over,” said Zimmerman. “We were sitting pretty but we didn’t get the squeeze down. We have to execute better than that.”
Byrd had three hits, two by Macon and a double by Grant Watson. Booth was the tough-luck loser on the mound. He struck out three and walked two in the one-hit effort.
The loss evened Byrd’s record at 1-1 after the Terriers had opened the season with a 10-6 win over Cave Spring a day prior, at Cave Spring. Byrd came from behind twice to win the game.
Spradlin started on the mound for the Terriers but gave up six runs in three and a third innings and left with Byrd trailing, 6-4. Derrick Chocklett relieved and went the final three and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit.
Chocklett got the win when Byrd rallied at the plate. Ironically it was a two-run triple by Spradlin that accounted for the go-ahead run, and Kinney followed with a bunt single to plate Gehrig. Macon and Jay Trail had two hits each to lead the Terriers.
“That was a good win for us,” said Zimmerman. “It took us several weeks to score 10 runs last year.”
On Tuesday the Knights returned the trip to Vinton, and this one the Byrdmen would just as soon forget. The Terriers committed eight errors in a 16-3 slaughter-rule loss.
Spradlin started and gave up 10 runs, but only one was earned. Byrd had five hits, as Booth was two for three and Spradlin had a double.
“It was just one of those days,” said Zimmerman. “You forget it and move on.”
After today’s game with Salem the Byrdmen will be off for a week and a day, returning to action March 31 at home against Staunton River. That will be a jayvee-varsity doubleheader, with the jayvees at 4:30 pm and the varsity to follow.