2015-03-20 / Sports

Quite the beauty

Blacksburg’s Raines pitches a gem, outduels Pendleton’s McConnell in leading Wildcats to key region win
By JOE L. HUGHES II
Ledger Sports Writer


Blacksburg’s Alex Raines prepares to deliver a pitch toward the plate during a recent game. The senior standout pitched a complete game shutout Wednesday, leading the Wildcats to a 1-0 win over Pendleton. 
(Ledger photo/ JOE L. HUGHES II) Blacksburg’s Alex Raines prepares to deliver a pitch toward the plate during a recent game. The senior standout pitched a complete game shutout Wednesday, leading the Wildcats to a 1-0 win over Pendleton. (Ledger photo/ JOE L. HUGHES II) During his time in a Blacksburg uniform, senior Alex Raines has done his share of marvelous things.

But even his performance on Wednesday night in a key region contest at Pendleton left head baseball coach Josh Batchler in awe.

Raines shut out a vaunted Bulldogs attack, scattering five hits and walking two in the Wildcats’ hard-fought 1-0 victory.

“(Raines) may have pitched the best game that I’ve ever seen him pitch,” Batchler said. “To do what he did, in a big game like this speaks volumes. He was great (Wednesday night).”

In a game where runs came at a premium, Blacksburg needed its senior hurler to be at the top of his game. Pendleton pitcher Drake McConnell was also up to the task, striking out eight Wildcats while walking none in throwing a complete game.

For both teams though, the sixth inning proved to be the difference.

The frame couldn’t start any worse for the Bulldogs, as a 2-base error by third baseman Hank Martin allowed catcher Nicholas Dixon to move into scoring position. A rare mistake by McConnell the very next batter would be his undoing, an error charged to the Pendleton pitcher helping Dixon cross home plate for the game’s only run.

In the game, the Bulldogs had four fielding errors, though none more costly than those.

“Give (McConnell) some credit, he kept us off balance all night,” Batchler said. “Them throwing the ball away allowed (Dixon) to move to second, then another error allowed us to score the run we needed to win. We didn’t cash in on all of our opportunities, but I’m happy we got the one we needed to come out with a win.” “(Raines) may have pitched the best game that I’ve ever seen him pitch.To do what he did, in a big game like this speaks volumes.

With the victory, Blacksburg improves to 4-1 on the young season, and more importantly remains undefeated in Region I-2A play.

“Despite what we’ve done to this point, we also know there is no time to slack off,” Batchler said. “We have to come ready to play night in and night out. This region is too good to slack off for days and nights at a time.”

The Wildcats will host Pendleton on Friday, with first pitch at 7 p.m. from Troublefield Park. Blacksburg will send Dixon to the mound, where he will match wits with Pendleton’s ace Tyler Fuhr.

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