By Mark Carpenter – People’s Defender
A pleasant Monday afternoon on April 18 provided the opportunity for two county baseball squads to meet on the diamond for the second time in five days as the West Union Dragons played host to the North Adams Green Devils in a non-conference battle. The Devils had won the earlier meeting between the two teams but not without the Dragons putting up a fight in an 8-5 North Adams win.
In Monday’s meeting, the Devils started fast, getting two runs in the top of the first off of West Union starter Brandan Cornell. With one out, Austin Copas reached on an error and Mikey Sheeley followed with a single to left. After a strikeout for the second out, Cole Meade doubled to left to bring home both runners for the early North Adams lead.
When the Dragons came to bat in the bottom of the first, they were facing right hander Kenny Branch, who moved from his usual spot behind the plate to the pitcher’s mound 60’6” away. Things didn’t go to well for Branch in the switch which would only last one inning. Jacob Miley and J.J. Kramer began the inning with walks and a two-bagger to left by Cornell brought home Miley with the first West Union run. A base hit by Casey Mullenix scored Kramer and tied the game, and a base hit to right by Jared Fenton drove home Cornell. An RBI ground out by Brandon Blevins gave the home team a 4-2 advantage after one.
That lead was short-lived as the Devils answered with three in the top of the second. Cole Roades singled, Ben Figgins reached on an error, and Roades came home on a balk call with Figgins crossing on a wild pitch. A later single to right by Trey Meade gave North Adams the 5-4 lead.
After the one-inning sting by Branch on the mound, Roades was called on in relief and would turn in a sterling performance, going the final six innings and not allowing a single earned run. The North Adams offense added a run in the top of the third when Figgins smashed a long double to left, stole third, and scored on an error.
The only inning where the Dragons scored on Roades was the bottom of the fourth, as they took advantage of some shoddy North Adams defense to score twice and tie the game at 6.
The Devils broke that tie and scored the eventual winning runs in the top half of the sixth. With Cornell still on the hill, Figgins smacked his second two-base hit of the game and moved to third on a bunt single by Bryant Lung. Figgins was thrown out attempting to score on a ground ball by Copas, and at that point West Union coach Joe Kramer went to his bullpen and called on southpaw Dylan Grooms.
Grooms was greeted by a Sheeley base hit that scored a pair and gave the Devils the lead for good. Sheeley later came home on an error to give North Adams a 9-6 advantage. With Roades closing the door on the Dragon offense, the Devils added one more in the seventh with Colt Shumaker scoring on a Figgins sacrifice fly and the Devils escaped with the 10-6 win.
Both teams were back in action on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with the Dragons picking up two Southern Hills Athletic Conference wins, while the Devils suffered two tough conference losses. Look for more on those games in the April 27 issue of The People’s Defender.