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Comets baseball season ends with 14-9 loss to PH

The Halifax County High School baseball team saw its bid for a berth in the Northwest Region Tournament take a big hit in a 14-9 loss to Patrick Henry High School Wednesday night in its Western Valley District Tournament semi-final game at Halifax County High School.

With the loss, the Comets then needed help from GW-Danville in the night's other district tournament semi-final game, but got no help from the district's regular-season champion.

With the 14-9 loss to Patrick Henry High School and GW's 11-8 loss to Franklin County High School, the Comets were eliminated from post-season play, with their bid for a berth in next week's Northwest Region Tournament coming to a sudden end.

The Comets needed either a win over Patrick Henry High School or a GW win over Franklin County High School to earn a berth in the Northwest Region Tournament.

"We dug ourselves a hole and we've got to live with it," Comets Head Coach Kelvin Davis said after his team's loss to Patrick Henry High School.

"It's unfortunate because we have a pretty solid team."

The Comets had beaten Patrick Henry High School in both of the two regular-season games, but had nothing for the Patriots in Wednesday night's district tournament semi-final game.

Patrick Henry High School, which had beaten GW and Franklin County High School on back-to-back nights and was playing its third key district game in as many nights, rang up an 11-0 lead on the Comets in four innings, and then had to hold on as the Comets punched in four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and added five more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in a late-game rally that ultimately fell short.

Over the course of the three games, the Patriots put a total of 43 runs on the scoreboard. They scored 17 runs against GW on Monday, scored 12 against Franklin County High School Tuesday night and put up 14 runs in Wednesday night's win over the Comets.

The Comets struggled with pitching throughout the game, using four pitchers including starter Colby Grissom and relievers Ryan Powell, Thomas Cole and Chase Wilkerson. Between them, they gave up 10 walks and 11 hits, while recording only six strikeouts. Six of the walks allowed by the Comets came in the first three innings of the game.

"That (pitching) was a big area of concern coming into the season," Davis pointed out.

"It (inconsistent pitching) has been showing itself all season. The guys are giving me everything they've got. I can't say enough about that. It's just unfortunate."

At the plate, the Comets had 14 hits in the game, but had only five hits off of Patrick Henry High School sophomore Jimmy Butler through the first four innings.

Davis said the mental strain of his players seeing the Patriots take an 11-run lead in the first three innings of the game affected the offensive performance.

"Mentally, that can wear you down," Davis said.

"When you're in the field a long time and the other team gets several runs up on you, it mentally wears you down. I think that's what happened with our bats. We got it together later in the game, but mentally, at the plate at the beginning of the game it started to accumulate and it affected us."

The Comets' bats came alive in a four-run rally in the fifth inning, a rally that featured a two-RBI triple from Tristan Howerton. Patrick Henry High School answered with two runs in the top of the sixth inning to go up 13-4 and then saw the Comets plate five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the score 13-9.

A two-RBI double by Rufus Jeffress and a two-RBI single by Tyler Stephens were the key hits in the sixth-inning rally.

Howerton and Avery Anderson led the Comets with three hits each. Jeffress and Stephens had two hits each and Ryan Yates, Will Harris, Nick Anderson and Dustin Crews all had one hit each.

Patrick Henry High School had 11 hits in the game, with Evan Deierle leading the Patriots with three hits that included a three-run homer in the third inning and five RBIs. Jake Wright and Justin Snellings each had two hits for Patrick Henry High School. Wright had two RBIs.