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Knights Drop State Baseball Semifinal 4-3 To Powhatan

Cave Spring first baseman Jordan Bryant drops the tag on a pickoff attempt of a Powhatan baserunner.

by Bill Turner

Cave Spring battled back from an early 3-0 deficit to knot the score at three, but Powhatan plated the deciding run in the top of the sixth as the Indians knocked off the Knights 4-3 in the Group AA state baseball semifinal Friday afternoon at Calfee Park in Pulaski.

The Knights got themselves in a hole in the top of the first after a pair of walks set the table for Indians’ Zach Bartlett.

Bartlett deposited a hanging curve deep over the right field wall that left the historic Calfee Park with room to spare, landing in the front yard of a house that sits well above the signature short porch of the stadium.

Cave Spring and its starting pitcher, UVa-Wise bound Steve Klaiber, settled down and the Knights began their comeback.

Knight’s third baseman Andrew Peterson drew a one-out walk in the second, before Jake Schuyler’s single sent Peterson to third. Ryan Gerhardt followed with a base on balls that loaded the bases for Cave Spring.

Reece Kingery, hitting in the 9-spot for Cave Spring, sent a single up the middle, plating Peterson and Schuyler, cutting the Powhatan lead to 3-2. Griffin Stanley walked to reload the bases, ending the day for Indian starter, and one-handed pitcher, Andrew Corbitt.

Corbitt had intrigued the Calfee crowd with his talented ability to juggle his glove into a fielding position, after each pitching effort.

Powhatan reliever Jamie Schaller averted further damage by the Knights, coaxing a force-out at the plate on an Austin Epperly grounder, followed by a strikeout of Klaiber.

Cave  Spring tied things up in their half of the fifth. Stanley opened with a single and was advanced to second on a perfectly executed Austin Epperly sacrifice bunt. Stanley moved to third on a sac-fly to center, and scored moments later on a wild pitch.

Klaiber, in the meantime, had settled in on the mound for Cave Spring with the help of the talented Knight infield who turned three double plays. Shortstop Terrell Simmons and third baseman Peterson both started twin killings around the horn on grounders, with Peterson adding a third when he gloved a scorcher to the hot corner and caught a wandering Indian baserunner well off the bag.

Powhatan scored the eventual game-winner in the top of the sixth when Tyler Allen’s deep drive to center barely escaped the outreached glove of center fielder Stanley, scoring pinch-runner Joe Manion.

Cave Spring was unable to mount a second comeback in the last two opportunities. The Knights finished the season at 18-9. Powhatan followed up their win over the Knights with a 4-1 win over Brookville Saturday in Radford to claim the AA title.

“It was a well-played game by both teams,” Cave Spring Head Coach David Dunstan noted after the game. “We didn’t hit in the spots we needed. It happens. I’m proud of these guys. Steve (starter Klaiber) battled all day. Walks will kill you.”

“We had a great season,” Dunstan added. “This is a great group. They’ve been to the states three years in a row.”

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