BOONE — The Watauga summer baseball team, playing in an instructional league baseball game, lost 13-3 to McDowell in a single seven-inning game May 23.
Usually, teams consisting of players who will return to their individual programs in 2020 play a pair of five-inning games in a series of doubleheaders during May and June. Watauga beat Hickory 4-0 and tied with Hickory 2-2 in the Pioneers’ first two games of the season in a road doubleheader at Hickory High School on May 22.
Watauga has players who spent time on its varsity team during the 2019 spring season.
The Pioneers also have players who played on the junior varsity and others who played on the Watauga middle school team.
A cross-section of those players took to the mound with mixed success. McDowell took advantage of 13 walks and five hit batsmen to beat Watauga. Ten of those runners ended up scoring runs.
McDowell scored two runs in the first inning after receiving five walks. The Titans followed with five runs in the second inning and six in the third inning, giving them a 13-3 lead. Watauga coach Ethan Greene, a former standout pitcher at Watauga and at Pfeiffer University, used one pitcher per inning unless a pitcher struggled to get through his inning.
“There are a lot of newer guys and younger guys and it’s a little difficult when you try to get everybody into a game and get a feel for the game,” said Greene, who was the Pioneers’ junior varsity coach in the spring. “It’s definitely a learning experience for them.”
Watauga answered McDowell’s two-run first inning with two runs of its own. Jake McInturff lead of the inning with a single and Rivers Gore also reached base on an error. Both Pioneers crossed the plate to tie the game 2-2.
The Pioneers added a run when Ryan Beech-Verhey doubled and scored on an Austin Idol single. Noah Flood also doubled in the inning, but did not drive in a run.
Since the Pioneers were playing a single game, Greene made out a batting order than included all 21 Pioneers in uniform. McInturff and Cooper Riddle each finished with two of Watauga’s 10 hits, but Watauga received just one walk from McDowell pitching.
McDowell nearly added more runs in the sixth inning, but Flood, playing right field, chased down a McDowell hit. He got the ball to shortstop Jacob Dilley and he relayed the ball to Riddle at third base to stop the Titans’ runner.
Greene complemented all three players, who played on the Watauga middle school team in the spring, for their execution of the relay.
“They are three eighth graders now who are looking to make some contributions next year to the junior varsity team,” Greene said. “The thing I’ve been most impressed with the most with the younger guys is a lot of them seem to know the game on a high level and understand what you’re talking about as far as strategy goes and being where they’re supposed to be.”
Watauga hosts Hickory on May 29 in the final game before Watauga takes its final exams.
The Pioneers return to the field June 13 to host visiting Maiden.