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Patrick Barton shuts door on Patrick Henry, Comets escape with win

Call Patrick Barton “the closer.”

The Halifax County High School senior third baseman and relief pitcher helped the Comets with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning and fanned five of the seven batters he faced on the mound in the last two innings to help the Comets preserve a 12-8 win over Patrick Henry High School Friday at Halifax County High School.

Friday’s win puts the Comets 2-0 in Western Valley District play and 6-4 overall heading into Tuesday night’s home Western Valley District game against Franklin County High School.

Halifax County High School broke an 8-8 deadlock in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ryan Yates smacked a double off of the outfield wall and later scored on a wild pitch to put the Comets up 9-8.

Will Harris reached base on a PH error and scored when Rufus Jeffress reached base on an error to give the Comets a 10-8 lead.

With two out in the inning, Barton laced a curve ball over the outfield fence to give the Comets two insurance runs and a 12-8 lead.

“He (the Patrick Henry High School pitcher) hung it, so I smacked it,” Barton said of the home run.

“Tyler (teammate Tyler Stephens) was at the plate ahead of me and he said ‘watch, he’s going to throw you a curve ball.’ I told him if he throws me a curve ball I’ll knock it over the fence. Luckily, I did.”

Barton was moved from his usual spot at third base to the mound in the top of the sixth inning after Comets starting pitcher Seth Elliott yielded a three-run homer to the Patriots’ Thomas Stockstill that tied the game at 8-8.

The senior relief pitcher struck out two of the three batters he faced in that inning and, after giving up a leadoff walk to start the top of the seventh inning, struck out the next three batters in succession to end the game.

“I was feeling pretty good,” Barton said of his time on the mound.

“The last time I pitched I didn’t pitch the best in the world. I’ve been working on it, trying to get my spots down. My curve ball was working well today.”

While the Comets played a key role in the game with his relief stint on the mound and his 2-4 effort at the plate that included two RBIs, the team’s youngest player on the squad also played a pivotal role.

Thomas Cole, the only sophomore on the Comets’ roster, had a big 3-3 day at the plate that included a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Cole and Barton combined to account for half of the Comets’ 10 hits in the game.

Yates had two hits, with Harris, Stephens and Tristan Howerton getting one hit each. Stephens’ hit was a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave the Comets an 8-4 lead.

Patrick Henry High School took advantage of a walk and three back-to-back hits to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Comets answered with five runs in the bottom of the second inning, two of the runs coming on a two-RBI double by Cole and two coming on a two-RBI triple by Harris.

Halifax County scored two more runs in the third inning to go up 7-3. PH scratched up a run in the top of the fourth inning to make it a 7-4 score, and Stephens’ homer in the fourth inning gave the Comets a four-run cushion the Patriots erased in the sixth inning.

Both teams had 10 hits in the game, but the Comets were able to take advantage of three walks from Patriots pitchers and five PH errors to help their effort.