Veterans, Whitewater split – set up deciding third game

Veterans and Whitewater have gone back to where they started. That is, the two first met back on Feb. 16 to start their season. Now, they’re obviously in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAA state baseball tournament, and with more at stake.

The first time they met, the Warhawks won 3-0. The second time … well, that is very much like the baseball was Thursday at Veterans, very much in the air.

It was no mystery the Wildcats could score runs. They outscored their last two opponents a combined 60-3.

The Warhawks got a taste of that in the opener, falling 15-0 in six innings. To their credit, however, they fought back in the second game. They won it by a score of 10-6 to set up a third and deciding game today at 6 p.m.

As far as that first game, walks helped Whitewater set the tone. In fact, three of Ben Gibbs seven, with a single sandwiched in between, led to the Wildcats first run in the first.

Gibbs settled down and set Whitewater down in order in the second, but an error, another walk, a double, a passed ball and a wild pitch opened the door for two more runs to come home. Gibbs came out with four and a third innings in the books and Whitewater up 7-0. Jackson Williams replaced him but was touched up for four hits and five runs. Austin Miranda came in to stop the bleeding, but the Wildcats got to him for three runs on three hits.

By the time that rotation had finished, the Wildcats had put up six runs in both the fifth and sixth while collecting 13 hits. Veterans had two. Derek Wylie had one in two at bats and Tyler Mayfield one in the same number of trips.

No stranger to Game 3 – seeing as that’s how they had to advance last week – the Warhawks sent a message early in the second game. They scored five in the first – the walk curse now apparently on the shoulder of the visitor as there were during that inning. There was also a double by Gibbs to get things started, two errors, a hit batsman and a single by Jemalle Simmons.

Daniel Hawthorne started Game 3 for Veterans, and although he did give up a pair of walks – and a double – in the first inning, he did not allow any runs. He walked five in all, but in his four innings of work, gave up four hits and two runs. He also struck out five.

The Warhawks took advantage of an error on Leyton Pinckney’s fly ball to score its sixth run. Jeremy Horton came in to run for him – at second. He stole third and scored on Jackson Williams’ fielder’s choice.

Whitewater got lone runs back in the third and fourth to cut it to 6-2. Veterans added a pair in the fifth. Spencer Sebero (1-2 with two walks) singled to start the inning. He stole second before Tyler Mayfield sacrificed him to third where Jacob Pierce’s double – Pierce 2-4 with a walk – brought him home. Pierce later stole third and came home on a wild pitch.

The Wildcats did answer that with a trio of runs in the bottom half of the inning, but after each had posted a scoreless inning, Veterans added two more insurance runs to ensure the win would stick.

The hits were 8-7 in favor of the visitor.