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Comets baseball comes up short

The way Halifax County High School Head Coach Kelvin Davis sees it, one more hit by his team in the third inning and a reversal of a close call at the plate in the first inning might have been enough for his team to continue its season. But, the Comets got neither, and fell 3-1 to James River High School in the State Group AAA Tournament quarterfinals Tuesday in Richmond.

“We just didn’t get that one big hit,” Davis pointed out.

“Baseball is about manufacturing runs and getting that big base hit when you need it. We just didn’t do that today.”

Trailing 2-0, the Comets got going in the top of the third inning with a hit by Dylan Hendricks. Zach Clem laid down a bunt and reached base on an error, allowing Rufus Jeffress, who was running for Hendrick, to reach third base. A single by Kelvin Davis Jr. scored Jeffress, allowing the Comets to trim their deficit to one run at 2-1.

Tyler Long reached base on a muffed fielder’s choice, sending Davis to second base.

With two runners on base and only one out, the Comets were a hit away from deadlocking the game. But, they came up empty as William Worley and Joe Martin went down on strikes to end the inning.

Then, there was a controversial call at the plate in the first inning that didn’t go the Comets’ way.

James River High School’s leadoff batter, Casey Jones, who had reached base via a walk, was on third base with the bases loaded and two out. When Comets pitcher Dylan Sons attempted to pick off the Rapids’ Michael Trentham at first base, Jones sped to the plate.

Hendrick got the throw to the plate in time, blocked the plate and appeared to have tagged Jones out. The umpire ruled Hendrick missed the tag high and refused to reverse the call despite pleas from Davis.

“That was a huge call in the ballgame,” Davis said.

“It was a momentum drive for them (James River High School). They got that run and kind of took a little out of us. There is no doubt in my mind that we got that guy out.”

Hendricks said there was no question in his mind that he had made the play.

“I had my glove right in front of his foot,” Hendrick said.

“He (Jones) never touched the plate.”

Jones, on the other hand, said the umpire made the right call.

“I barely beat it,” Jones said.

“I just got under the tag.”

The Rapids added a run in the bottom of the second inning to take a 2-0 lead before the Comets scratched up a run in the third inning to make it a 2-1 score. With Long on the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning in relief of Sons, who allowed six hits and five walks through five innings, James River High School added an insurance run to account for the final 3-1 score.

Halifax County had only one runner on the sacks through the final four innings. Rapids starting pitcher Kit Sheetz wrapped up his stint on the mound by fanning four of the six Comets batters he faced in the fourth and fifth innings. When his day was done, Sheetz had struck out nine Comets batters and had allowed one run on two hits.

Nathan Kirby went to the mound for the Rapids in the sixth inning and struck out five of the seven Comets batters he faced in the final two innings to earn the save.

The Comets had two hits in the game, both coming in the third inning with the singles from Hendricks and Davis.

James River High School had eight hits including two each from Mac Caples and Ricky Castro.

“It was a great ballgame,” Davis said.

“Unfortunately, somebody had to lose and, unfortunately, it was us. I thought we played well. I thought both teams played well and both teams showed good sportsmanship. My hat goes off to that ballclub (James River High School). They have a great ballclub. They showed a lot of class. I wish them all the luck.”