By PULASKI COUNTY REC DEPARTMENT
The Pulaski County Dixie Boys 13-14 Baseball All-Stars competed last week at the Virginia West State Region Tournament at Independence.
Led by Head Coach Barry Buckner Sr. and assistant coaches Kenneth Harrell and Destry Harding the Cougar All-Stars earned a 2-2 record in the double-elimination format, finishing tied for third place with Radford, also 2-2.
Pulaski County catcher Barry Buckner Jr. was the team’s leading hitter with a .667 batting average, going 10-for-15, including a team high five RBI. Shortstop R. J. Blevins (.545) went 6-for-11 with three walks and four runs scored. Pitcher/infielder Joe Blevins (.533) was 8-for-15 with three doubles. Outfielder Austin Harrell (.400) batted 4-for-10 with three walks, and first baseman Houston Webb (.375) was 6-for-16 with three RBI.
Joe Blevins and R. J. Blevins each had one pitching win, while Chandler Dunnigan earned one hold and one save to the pitching success mix.
Below a recap of each game.
GAME 1: Galax 9, Pulaski County 6
Pulaski County led pre-tournament favorite Galax 4-3 after four innings, as Webb, Harrell, Buckner and Joe Blevins delivered run scoring hits in the early going.
A five-run Galax sixth inning spelled doom for the young Cougars. Galax pitching ace Jacob Stuart, a starting high school varsity pitcher, worked a perfect seventh inning to notch the save for winning pitcher, Shane Key. R. J. Blevins and Buckner both batted 3-for-3.
Starting pitcher Joe Blevins worked two scoreless innings, then Dunnigan worked two innings allowing just one earned run. Another pair of Cougar hurlers were not as successful as Galax launched a strong comeback in the sixth frame.
GAME 2: Pulaski County 6, Carroll County 1
Pulaski County got strong pitching from Joe Blevins, who tossed five scoreless innings. Relief help from Dunnigan, who allowed just one run in two innings work proved important as well to secure the Cougars new tournament life.
Joe Blevins (3-for-4), Buckner (3-for-4), Webb (2-for-4) Dunnigan (2-for-2), and Jon Howlett had consecutive hits to highlight a three-run third that provided more than enough offense. Dunnigan had two RBI, knocking home an insurance run in the sixth.
Carroll County pitchers struck out 14, but Cougar batters came through with key hits when needed most.
GAME 3: Pulaski County 12, Giles County 9
This was a different kind of baseball game, because of two highly out of the ordinary highlights, each favoring Pulaski County and leading to a close win.
First, the first 12 Cougars batters reached base, leading to nine runs scored. It took 14 batters before Pulaski County made its first out of the game.
Second, Pulaski County right fielder Trent Mace threw out two batters at first base, one in the third and one in the fifth inning. Both prevented a Giles batter from a base hit single. Veteran Tournament Director Fred Weatherman of Independence and long-time Pulaski County Dixie Baseball League President Eddie Sutphin both believed it was their first time witnessing the same outfielder throwing out two different batters in one game, at first base, preventing two hits.
Austin Harrell, Ryan Saunders and Mason Clark all reached base from the lower half of the Cougars lineup to keep things rolling and put Giles County in a deep hole. Howlett provided a key run producing hit from the middle of the order. R. J. Blevins (4-for-4), Buckner (3-for-4) and Joe Blevins (3-for-5) led the assault from the top of the batting lineup.
Blevins was staked to a comfortable lead, and threw three scoreless frames for the pitching win.
Giles County came storming back, with two runs in the sixth and six runs in the seventh to make it close at the end. A nice diving grab by catcher Buckner of a pop fly ended the contest, as Giles County had the potential tying run at bat.
Game 4: Grayson County 7, Pulaski County 0
Pulaski County’s tournament run came to an abrupt halt, running into a superb performance from Shawn Campbell on the bump. Campbell worked all seven frames for Grayson County. He allowed four Cougar base runners the first four innings, but none the final three.
Joe Bevins, Buckner, Webb and Harrell were the only base runners. Only one inning, the fourth, saw Pulaski County have more than one.
The loss eliminated the Cougars at 2-2, tied for third place. Grayson County and Galax played for the West Region Tournament title Monday night, with State Tournament bids at stake.