With runs at a premium Friday night, Evans High School head coach Ricky Beale had no hesitation in waving Kyle Anderson around third base on Brice Harrison’s double to the wall.
Sliding headfirst in a cloud of dust, Anderson’s hand touched homeplate an instant before Grovetown catcher Jose Nogueras applied the tag, giving the Knights a hard-fought 2-1 win over Grovetown in eight innings.
“I didn’t care about the throw,” said Anderson, who had three hits with a double and an RBI. “Coach (Ricky) Beale was wheeling around and I said I’m going.”
The Knights improved to 10-2 and 2-1 after the first of three rounds of Region 2A-AAAAA play.
After being one-hit by Greenbrier side-armer Nick Sandlin in their previous outing, the Knights had to deal with Warriors’ side-armer Cameron Busby. Busby allowed nine hits, but worked out of jams with off-speed pitches, striking out seven and stranding 10 baserunners before surrendering the game-winning hit.
Harrison thought it was an important region win.
“Everybody’s pretty even and after losing to Greenbrier we had to bounce back,” Harrison said. “It was pretty big because Busby pitched a good game...Him and Sandlin, they’re nasty, they don’t give you much to hit.”
After Anderson singled off Busby to start the eighth, Harrison fouled off two bunt attempts, worked the count to 2-2 and then got the game-winning hit.
The Warriors dropped to 6-4, 0-3 with the loss.
Senior Wesley Crow (2-0) got the win after pitching two scoreless innings in relief of starter Garrett Wilkinson.
Wilkinson, who entered the night 4-0, shut down the Warriors on three hits through six innings. He allowed just the one run (unearned) in the third inning on Busby’s two-out single that scored Hayden Harris, who started the inning by reaching on an error. Wilkinson would finish with five strikeouts and four walks.
“Garrett did a great job – and you hate to sound like this – but it’s what you expect out of Garrett, it’s what he’s given us the last three years on the mound,” said Beale of his senior left-hander. “He may not have had his best stuff but he kept battling.”
After the Warriors scored their run in the third, the Knights tied it in the fourth. Colin Dominy singled and stole second base before coming home on Anderson’s clutch two-out single.
Like Anderson, Dominy had three hits in four trips to the plate with a double.
The Knights threatened in the bottom of the sixth loading the bases, but Busby got out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
“Cameron’s a bulldog, he’s going to give you nothing but everything he’s got,” said Warriors’ head coach Mike Jones. “Our kids fought their butts off, they (Evans) fought their butts off and it was a ball game for real.”
Wilkinson walked the first two batters in the seventh inning, prompting Beale to call for Crow. After the Warriors sacrificed the runners to second and third, Crow got consecutive strikeouts to end the threat.
“Crow did a heck of a job coming in and throwing strikes and he earned it tonight,” Beale said.
Grovetown 001 000 00 – 1 4 1
Evans 000 100 01 – 2 9 2
Cameron Busby and Jose Nogueras. Garrett Wilkinson, Wesley Crow (7) and Brice Harrison.
WP–Crow (2-0). LP–Busby (2-3)
2B-Colin Dominy (E), Kyle Anderson (E), Harrison (E).
Leading hitters: Evans–Anderson 3-4 RBI, Dominy 3-4.