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GW edges Comets 6-5 in eight innings

DANVILLE Twice the Halifax County High School baseball team rallied to tie Tuesday's Piedmont District game against GW at Dan Daniel Park in Danville. 

They just couldn't do it a third time.

A line drive hit to centerfield by GW's Josh Via with the bases loaded that was caught by Comets centerfielder Tyler Stephens allowed Hunter Byrnes to score in the bottom of the eighth inning and give GW a 6-5 win and a sweep of its two regular-season contests against the Comets.

GW downed the Comets 5-2 Friday night at Halifax County High School.

"We were very fortunate Friday night and today," said GW Head Coach Barry Powell.

"A hit here or there either way would have given each one of us an opportunity to win early in the game. We were not getting hits when we should have and they (Halifax County) had opportunities. Their pitching settled down and stopped us."

The Comets had opportunities, but failed to cash in.

With the game deadlocked at 5-5 the Comets had a potential scoring opportunity go by the board in the top of the fifth inning. After Tristan Howerton laced a ball off of the left field wall for a double and Will Harris received an intentional walk to put runners on first base and second base a strikeout, a base running miscue that resulted in an out and a short pop-up to GW pitcher Brad Smith ended the inning.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Comets loaded the bases with walks to Andrew McCann and Tyler Stephens and a hit from Dustin Crews. A strikeout ended the inning and the scoring opportunity, leaving the game tied at 5-5.

Later, in the top of the eighth inning, the Comets got a two-out single from Ryan Powell but left Powell stranded at first base.

The Comets stranded 10 base runners in the game.

"It's the same old story," remarked Comets Head Coach Kelvin Davis.

"We're hitting the baseball really good. We get our runners in scoring position, but we're not getting the key hits at the right time. I told the guys the key hits are going to start falling and things will work out our way sooner or later."

The Comets put up a huge fight in the game, coming from behind twice to tie the game.

GW tagged Powell, the Comets' starting pitcher, hard early in the game. GW took a 2-0 lead in the first inning with run-scoring hits from Byrnes and Blake Bivens only to have the Comets answer with two runs of their own in the top of the second inning to tie the game at 2-2.

Harris opened the inning with a hit and Thomas Cole banged a double off of the rightfield wall, moving Harris to third base. A sacrifice fly from Ethan Woltz scored Harris and a short single to rightfield from Tripp Bennett scored Cole to tie the game.

GW scored twice in the bottom of the second inning with run-scoring hits from Byrnes and Bivens to take a 4-2 lead.

The Comets got runners on base in the top of the third inning with a two-out walk by Crews and a hit from Howerton. Crews later scored on a GW error on an attempted pickoff play at first base to allow the Comets to close the gap to a run at 4-3.

GW added a run in the bottom of the third inning on a Comets miscue after Powell walked the first two batters he faced in the inning. That run gave GW a 5-3 edge.

Halifax County High School tied the game in the top of the fourth inning, which started with Cole reaching base on an error. Woltz followed with a hit and a two-RBI single from McCann with two out allowed the Comets to tie the game at 5-5.

But, despite two more potential scoring opportunities, and a dandy pitching performance from Bennett, who went to the mound in the third inning to relieve Powell in which Bennett allowed six hits and two walks and fanned four batters, the Comets couldn't earn the game-winning run.

"Tripp did a heck of a job," Davis pointed out.

"He kept them (GW) off balance and did what we wanted him to do.

"My hat goes off to our guys for staying with it and fighting back," Davis added.

"This is the game of baseball. Some days you're "on" and some days you're not. Some days you get the key base hits and some days you don't. We're going to keep fighting."

The Comets had nine hits in the game with Howerton leading the way with two hits. Powell, McCann, Crews, Harris, Cole, Woltz and Bennett each had one hit.

GW had 14 hits in the game with Byrnes leading the Eagles with a 4-4 effort at the plate. Smith helped his own cause with a 3-5 night at the plate. Bivens and Ahmed Manigo each had two hits in GW's winning effort.