By Stephen Henderson
In the first home baseball game of the season, the Patrick County High School Cougars defeated the Blacksburg Bruins 5-4 in a back-and-forth contest last Thursday afternoon.
The Cougars were tied at two in the bottom of the fifth when Colby Vernon hit a single to drive in two runners.
The Bruins took an early lead in the first inning with an RBI on a double hit.
Caleb Pendleton earned the win for Patrick County, pitching five innings, giving up two runs, nine hits and striking out four. Aaron Pack pitched one inning and Austin Vernon threw the final three outs for the save for the Cougars.
Colby Vernon and Andrew Collins each drove in two runs to lead PC batters. Collins scored two runs on his own while Caleb Pendleton also scored two runs. William Wood, Jared Brown and Austin Vernon each scored a run.
Blacksburg had 14 hits in the game.
“I am very pleased with our performance,” said Coach Eric Renegar. “Blacksburg is a tough, well-coached ball club; hats off to that group—they are tough,” he said.
“We preached all week to narrow our focus to smaller facets of the game,” Renegar explained. “In our first two scrimmages, we have left a ton of opportunities out there, and tonight, we did not do that nearly as much,” he said. “There were a couple of instances when we let our fundamentals and mental side of the game slip away, but we were able to maintain composure and regain focus, so with that, I am very pleased,” said Renegar.
The Cougar pitchers did a “fantastic” job pounding the strike zone. They only walked two and hit one batter. “With consistency like that, it makes it much easier for us to be successful,” Renegar said.
“Caleb Pendleton led us from the first pitch on and with the supporting cast behind him and was able to slate the first victory of his senior year. Austin Vernon recorded his first save and pitched through a lot of adversity,” said Renegar.
On the offensive side of things, the Cougars got big hits when they needed them. Colby Vernon and Andrew Collins had two “huge” hits; Colby’s hit put the Cougars in the lead.
“All-in-all, I am fairly pleased, but at no point am I completely satisfied,” Renegar said, setting his sights for Saturday’s double header in Winston-Salem.
Saturday, the Cougars traveled to BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, N.C. to play Alleghany High School from Sparta, N.C., and North Stokes High School. The Cougars split the two contests, beating Alleghany 15-14 and falling to North Stokes 3-1.
In the first game against Alleghany, the Cougars took the lead late. A six-run lead in the second inning and four runs in the third inning was just enough for the Cougars to hold off Alleghany on their comeback attempt in the seventh inning. Alleghany scored four runs in the seventh but lost 15-14.
The Cougars had 14 hits. Andrew Collins, Austin Vernon, William Wood, Evan Hopkins, Dylan Philips and Jared Brown (DH for Kristian Ashburn) each had multiple hits.
Collins and Parker Brown led with two stolen bases each; the Cougars totaled nine stolen bases.
William Wood had three RBIs while Jared Brown, Andrew Collins and Parker Brown had two each.
Dylan Phillips took the win on the mound, pitching three innings. Thatcher Blankenship came in for relief.
In Saturday’s second game, the Cougars lost to the North Stokes Viking 3-1.
The Cougars led 1-0 until the fifth inning when the Vikings scored two runs. A sacrifice bunt by Andrew Collins scored Seth Scott in the second inning, giving PC the lead until the fifth inning.
William Wood and Evan Hopkins each had two hits; Caleb Pendleton, Seth Scott and Parker Brown each had one hit.
Seth Scott pitched four innings giving up five hits and three strikeouts. Thatcher Blankenship and Aaron Pack finished the game on the mound.
The Cougars played at Christiansburg Monday afternoon and will host Halifax today (Wednesday) at 5 p.m.
(Photos by Stephen Henderson)