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Halifax County Pre-Majors left fighting for survival in state tourney

The Halifax County Dixie Pre-Majors all-stars squandered a big opportunity in the top of the third inning Monday night against Carroll County in the Virginia Dixie Pre-Majors State Baseball Tournament. It cost them dearly.

Facing Carroll County in a battle of unbeaten teams, Halifax County loaded the bases with a single from Dustin Fears and bunt hits from Andrew McCann and Nick Anderson.

It was a perfect setup for Halifax County, which had the middle of the batting order to follow. But, Halifax County came up empty with Carroll County pitcher Brandon Lineberry fanning the next two Halifax County batters and Halifax County pitcher Tyler Wall hitting into a fielder’s choice that netted the final out of the inning for Carroll County.

Carroll County came back to score three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and added four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to blank Halifax County 7-0 and send Halifax County into an elimination game last night against Amherst County.

With the win, Carroll County advanced to last night’s scheduled nightcap to face once-beaten Mecklenburg County. 

A win by Carroll County last night would propel it into a possible championship game tonight against the winner of last night’s Halifax County-Amherst County game.

“I’d love to have that shot back, but that’s baseball,” Halifax County Manager Dennis Lewis mused following Monday night’s loss.

“We had an opportunity that one inning, but we couldn’t get a runner across the plate. That was our opportunity to break their back and we didn’t. We let them off the hook. When you have a quality pitcher like that (Lineberry) on the mound, when you have a chance to score you have to do it.”

Lewis speculated that the game would have been a different game if his team could have put some runs on the scoreboard.

“I really wanted a big inning against them right there,” Lewis said.

“I knew we weren’t going to get many shots at this kid (Lineberry). Maybe we should have bunted (the ball) again. The bunt was working well. Looking back in hindsight, maybe I should have laid another one (bunt) down a little bit earlier. But, I had the meat of our batting order there and I figured we could make something happen.”

Halifax County had only two base runners the rest of the night. Jacob New reached base on a Carroll County miscue in the sixth inning and Nick Lewis had a double in the top of the seventh inning. Both were left stranded on the bases.

Carroll County got to Halifax County starting pitcher Tyler Wall for four hits and three runs in the fourth inning to take a 3-0 lead. Up to that point, Wall had thrown a stellar game, striking out three batters and allowing only one hit through the first three innings.

With Wall having thrown 62 pitches through four innings, Lewis put Hunter Watts on the mound to start the fifth inning. Watts gave up a single to Ryan Gravley, walked two batters to load the bases and struck Aaron Hooven with a pitch to force in a run and give Carroll County a 4-0 lead.

A combination of a hit and a Halifax County error on the same play netted two RBIs for Nathan Snow to give Carroll County a 6-0 lead. Another Halifax County miscue resulted in another run and a 7-0 lead for Carroll County.

“They (Carroll County) started catching up to my pitcher (Wall) after awhile, which good teams are going to do,” Lewis pointed out.

“They got a few breaks here and there and got the hits along with them. We had an inning where we kind of lost focus for a little bit, and the game got away from us.”

Snow led Carroll County with two hits and three RBIs, with Josh Underwood also getting a pair of hits.

Lineberry struck out six Halifax County batters and allowed four hits, two of them on bunts. He walked one batter.