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Comets drop Eagles, GW next

South Boston News
Patrick Barton slams a two-run homer in the first inning of Tuesday's Western Valley District baseball game against Franklin County. (David Conner II photo) / April 18, 2013
Combine solid pitching, clutch defense, and an extremely hot bat near the middle of the lineup, and you’ve got enough for success in high school baseball.

The Halifax County High School varsity, now 3-0 in the Western Valley District play, defeated a scrappy Franklin County team, 6-1, in an important Western Valley district game Tuesday in South Boston. Halifax now hosts GW-Danville Friday at the Comet field.

Oh yes, HCHS did something else that was important, too, scoring early.

The Comets put the pressure on the visiting Eagles with a four-run first inning.

The Comets got an excellent mound effort from Ryan Powell, while no. 6 hitter Patrick Barton cracked a two-run homer in the first inning, followed by a double and a single.

Halifax also took advantage of crisp defense, especially in the infield. Halifax established decisive momentum in the first inning.

Ryan Yates slapped a well-hit leadoff double. With one out, Will Harris showed great hustle in beating out an infield hit. Tyler Stephens later smacked an RBI sacrifice fly to get Yates home, and Rufus Jeffress followed with an RBI single.

Barton then stepped up and crushed a two-run homer for a 4-0 Comet advantage. FCHS got on the board in the top of the third. Bryan Scalf singled, moved up on a passed ball, and then scored the Eagles’ lone run on a Chad Huston groundout.

Barton caused more trouble for FCHS in the third, getting another run back for the Comets. He sliced a two-out double and then scored on a blistering two-bagger past third base by Tristan Howerton.

HCHS led 5-1.

The Comets later added a run in the bottom of the fifth, with two outs.

Barton singled, and later showed great hustle by scoring ahead of a single off the bat of Howerton. Howerton was thrown out trying to extend the hit, but Barton scored ahead of the defensive play, so the run counted.

Meanwhile, FCHS could not get any kind of real consistency against Powell, who went seven complete. He only allowed five hits, all singles, and nothing past the third inning.

Powell retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced, giving up a two-out walk in the sixth.

Powell fanned four.

HCHS had excellent defense around the diamond, and particularly from the infield. Shortstop Nick Anderson and second baseman Will Harris had excellent outings. The Comets also turned a crisp double play in the first

- Anderson to Harris to first basemen Seth Elliott - and the Comets had other web gems.

HCHS finished with nine hits, as Yates doubled and singled. Howerton also singled and doubled.

HCHS put together an important win, with key players capitalizing on their opportunities.

Barton said the FCHS starter hung a curveball on his two-run homer. Later, Barton smacked a knuckleball that almost hit the batter in the head.

Barton said the win was huge, noting that he expects GW to pitch Ben Blevins tomorrow night in a showdown with the Comets. “We’re going to show them what we’ve got.”

Powell, meanwhile, was up there to throw strikes. He relied on his defense to scoop up ground balls and work effectively behind him, which is basically what happened. “I know I’ve got a great defense behind me,” said Powell.

Powell also had an advantage by being able to pitch with a 4-0 lead early.

HCHS head coach Kelvin Davis had been concerned with the pitching, and he was glad to see Powell step up.

Now, it’s on to GW-Danville.

Barton leads the offense, and Davis said the coaching staff has to keep the Comet hitter grounded. Barton has tremendous power and can hit to all fields.

The Comets “get up for GW, like GW gets up for us,” said Davis.

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