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Comets advance to conference title game; secure berth in regional tourney

There have been recent games in which the Halifax County High School baseball team has struggled to come up with clutch hits in key situations.

The Comets had no such struggles Friday night in a 14-3 win over Orange County High School in a 5A North Region Conference 16 Tournament semi-final game at Halifax County High School. 

Friday night's win advances the Comets into Monday's 5A North Region Conference 16 Tournament championship game against Patrick Henry High School-Ashland which will be played at 2 p.m. at Halifax County High School. Also, the win allowed the Comets to secure a berth in the 5A North Region Tournament, which starts next Friday.

"We did everything right," noted Comets Head Coach Kelvin Davis.

"We manufactured runs, we did some good base running, got the key base hits that we needed, got runners on (base) when we needed and we had good pitching. It was a good ballgame for us."

Winning the opening-round conference tournament game and earning a berth in the 5A North Region Tournament was a nice step for the Comets, who won only twice in their last five games.

"At the start of the season, that's all we talk about," Davis said of the 5A North Region Tournament.

"I've got a bunch of seniors that have been there. They knew they wanted to get back. It was a good thing that we put everything in place. I told them to forget about everything that was done in the past and let's focus in right now. Hopefully we can get hot and stay hot like we did tonight throughout this tournament. I just hope we're getting hot at the right time."

The Comets pounded Orange County High School pitchers for 13 hits, with Ryan Powell, Dustin Crews, Thomas Cole and Ethan Woltz leading the offensive attack with two hits each. Andrew McCann, Tristan Howerton, Tyler Stephens, Kory Lennon and Hunter Watts each chipped in a hit.

It was Powell, who occupied the leadoff spot in the batting order, that got things going by beating out an infield hit in his first time at bat. He followed with a 2-RBI single in the second inning when the Comets scored three runs and took a 3-0 lead.

"It was nice getting hits, getting on base and scoring runs," Powell said.

"It's always nice getting a hit early. It made me feel like I could get more hits. Getting on base and scoring runs is key because it gets the pressure off of the pitchers."

Crews had a double, a walk and a single in his first three times at the plate and scored four runs.

"I feel I've been seeing the ball better here lately and I've come up with some hits," Crews remarked.

"We had a real good performance. Everybody chipped in with a hit. That momentum pushes you on."

Holding a 3-0 lead, the Comets added three more runs in the bottom of the third inning to go up 6-0. Adrian Moran, running for Howerton who reached base with a hit, scored on a single by Cole. Crews, who walked earlier in the inning, scored when Josh Irby hit into a fielder's choice, and Woltz scored on a wild pitch.

Orange County High School scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning with the help of four hits to make it a 6-2 score. However, the Comets added three more runs in the bottom of the inning with the help of a 2-RBI double from Stephens. Stephens later scored when Woltz, who reached base with a hit, got caught up in a rundown between first base and second base and made it safely to second base as the result of an Orange County High School miscue.

With the Comets leading 9-2, Orange County High School scored a run in the top of the fifth inning to cut its deficit to six runs at 9-3.

The Comets exploded for five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to produce the final 14-3 score. Will Harris, who reached base on an error, scored on an error to put the Comets up 10-3. A run-scoring double from Woltz, a 2-RBI triple from Lennon and a run-scoring hit from Watts concluded the scoring.

The Comets used three pitchers in the game, all of whom gave a solid effort. Starter Colby Grissom, who tossed the first four innings, allowed two runs and six scattered hits. He struck out two batters and did not allow any walks

Chase Wilkerson threw for two innings and struck out three of the 10 batters he faced. He allowed one hit, one run, and walked one batter.

Tripp Bennett went to the mound to close out the game. He struck out one batter and allowed one hit. He did not walk any batters.