University High’s baseball team might have scored first, but North Greene responded and emerged with the 5-1 Watauga Valley Conference road victory Monday.
The Huskies moved into the league’s top spot with a 2-0 record, 9-4 overall. The Junior Bucs are 1-1, 7-2 as they host Unaka, the District 1-A champion the last three seasons, today at 4:30.
“They were the better team today,” University High head coach Joe Borden said. “Outpitched us, outhit us, outfielded us. So tip your hats to them.”
North Greene single runs in the third, fifth and sixth before two insurance tallies in the final frame.
“It was a big win for us. We were a little flat and left a lot of runners on base,” North Greene head coach Tim Lady said. “Anytime you beat University High, it is a good win. We just battled today.”
The run support helped Tyler Bailey on the mound for the Huskies. He dealt 133 pitches in the complete-game effort, and the lone run he gave up turned out to be unearned as University High scattered six hits.
Bailey struck out a dozen, but walked five.
The Junior Bucs struck first when Connor Bartow placed a single through the left side of the Huskies’ defense with teammates on the corners in the second inning. Marshall Hurley trotted in after he walked and went to third on an error on a poor throw from right on a single by starting pitcher Jeff Kennedy. That was the only run University High could post in the frame as the next three batters all struck out.
In the top of the third Zak Potter drove in the game-tying score. Dalton Wright doubled with two outs and traveled around the bases on Potter’s single to right. Wright scored later on as he was 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Wright then helped North Greene keep it a 1-1 game with a diving catch in the right-center gap. Wright then did the right thing and tossed the ball back into the infield where Justin Wiseman had left second base on his way home, but was the second half of the inning-ending double play. Wiseman got to second on his double to left as he was 2-for-2 with a walk.
The visitors were able to capitalize in the fifth when courtesy runner Austin Holland scored on a groundout from Wright. Holland ran for Bailey after his single to left.
North Greene had chances to add more runs, but left 11 runners on base, including six in scoring position. The Huskies were able to keep innings going with a 5-for-12 effort with two outs. In comparison University High was 0-for-5 with two outs which included two double plays.
Three of those 11 Huskies stranded on the bases came in the first inning when Kennedy gave out two walks and hit another batter to start the game. His teammates backed him up with two fly ball outs around a strikeout to keep things scoreless at that point.
Kennedy ended up with the loss after going four-plus innings. He gave up seven hits that led to a pair of runs. He struck out two and walked the same number.
University High had runners on the corner with two outs in the bottom of the first, but Stephen Bartow was thrown out at home trying to advance on a double-steal attempt. Bartow reached on the game’s first single into left center.