By Sports Editor Brian Hoffman
The William Byrd baseball team is the top seed in the four-team Blue Ridge District tournament, which is scheduled for Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Byrd will host a game Friday night and the championship is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Ben Franklin Middle School in Rocky Mount.
As the number one seed Byrd will host fourth seeded Lord Botetourt at 6 pm Friday night at Walthall Park. Second seeded Franklin County will host third seeded Northside in the other Friday semifinal, and if the Eagles win they’ll play the championship game on their home field. BRD baseball, softball, track and both boys and girls soccer championships are all being played in Franklin County Saturday.
The Terriers earned the home seed with a thrilling 6-5 win over Franklin County in Vinton Monday. The game went 13 innings and didn’t end until after 11 pm as the two heavyweights slugged it out at Walthall Park.
Byrd had to rally from behind to force overtime. Down 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Terriers had the bases loaded with two outs. Ross Divers was at the plate, one strike away from the game being over, but his single scored two and sent the game into extra innings.
That’s how it stood into the bottom of the 13th, when Byrd loaded the bases again. Ironically Divers was at the dish once again, and his fly ball to right was dropped by the right fielder for a “sacrifice fly error” to score the winning run.
Byrd burned two pitchers in the game, Hunter Sipe and Trenton Sayers, and neither will be eligible to pitch Friday. Sipe started and went five and a third innings before Blake Glover got the last two outs in the sixth. Brogan Dent pitched the seventh, then Sayers went six innings to pick up the win, holding the Eagles to one hit and fanning eight through the top of the 13th inning.
The Terriers finished with 11 hits by 10 different batters. Ethan Hairston was the only Byrd player with two hits and he also had an RBI and scored three times.
Divers had a memorable night. He dropped down a suicide squeeze to score a run before knocking in the tying runs in the seventh and the winning run in the 13th.
With the win the Terriers took sole possession of first place in the BRD with a 15-4 overall record and an 8-2 mark in the BRD. Franklin fell to 8-2 but Byrd won the tie-breaker for the top seed in the district, having split with a common opponent, Cave Spring, while the Eagles lost to Cave Spring twice.
Byrd and Franklin split games during the regular season, with both going extra innings, and the two will likely be recognized as “co-champs” of the regular season. This weekend will put someone on top after Saturday’s tournament championship, and while the four team district tournament means nothing as far as region seeding Byrd coach Jason Taylor would like to have that trophy.
“We want to win every game we play, I don’t care who it’s against or what it’s for,” he said. “It gives the boys confidence.”
Monday’s win will likely give the Terriers a first round home game in the Region 3D tournament, which will start with play-in games on May 26 and run through June 3rd. The Terriers were scheduled to play their 20th regular season game against Carroll County on Wednesday but that was cancelled so Carroll could play a district opponent in a makeup game.