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Comets shut down Albemarle 5-0, next up, Mountain View

South Boston News
Drew Harlow pitched the shutout agains Albemarle Thursday, striking out 11, walking one and allowing only one hit. (David Conner II photos) / May 27, 2019

Halifax County High School varsity baseball has a familiar opponent Tuesday for a 6 p.m. regional semifinals showdown.

Mountain View returns as the last obstacle in 2019 to the regional finals.

The Comets will host the region finals if they win. Lose and the Comet season is done.

The Comets advanced in regional play Thursday, bolstered by two elements in its 5-0 win over Albemarle at home.

Halifax recovered nicely after its loss against Tunstall in the Piedmont District tournament championship final.

The Comets enjoyed a reliable mound effort by Drew Harlow. Halifax also capitalized on a two-run homer from Joey Duffer.

Harlow allowed just one hit, no walks, and fanned 11.

Duffer’s two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the Comets breathing room. Halifax improved to 21-2.

The Comets advanced to Tuesday’s regional semifinals. Should Halifax win, the Comets would earn a spot in the state Class 5 tournament for the third consecutive year.

Both teams in the regional finals advance to the state’s final eight.

Halifax had nine hits against Albemarle, led by three doubles from hard-hitting Dylan Clark.

Harlow displayed solid command in the win.

“My curveball was not quite there today. I had my team behind me,” said Harlow. “The last game, we didn’t really show up to play.”

Clark, meanwhile, has been on fire offensively. He had another impact game Thursday. The ball looked like a ‘beach ball.’

Duffer said of the home run, “it was a two-strike pitch. I was ready to hit any sort of strike or anything close to a strike coming my way. He threw me a low and inside fastball.

“Got a good turn on it,” said Duffer.

Duffer said the Comet momentum is back.

“We had a fluke last game. We’re back and ready for Tuesday,” he said.

Coach Kenneth Day enjoyed a much improved effort.

“We came out really determined. The kids were really relaxed,” said Day.

Clark’s resurgence was hardly a surprise. “We always know he’s going to put the ball in play every time he goes up there,” said Day.

“We knew what Drew was going to give us on the mound. We had to make some plays behind him and get some timely hits, and we did,” said Day.

Halifax hopes its momentum is back, although Day cautioned, “Every team we play is going to be good from here on out.

“We’ve got to play our ‘A’ game every time. If we don’t, we’ll be sitting at home.”

Day said Harlow kept his pitch count down. It seems possible that the Comet stalwart will be able to pitch in Tuesday’s regional semifinals.

Day didn’t say for sure how the pitching matchups will play out. Harlow will have four days off.

Halifax prepared well for Albemarle.

“We had a really good week of practice. We went over some things that we made some mistakes on. They know what they’re capable of. We’re trusting the (Comets) to get it done,” said Day.

Day said home field advantage is huge Tuesday. The players avoid a lengthy bus trip and they can come to the ball park from home.

Day said it was a reward for a solid regular season. “They deserve to be at home, because they played so well during the regular season.”

Harlow looked sharp and struck out the side against Albemarle in the first. Halifax got a leadoff double from Dylan Clark, but he was stranded at third in Halifax’s opening frame.

Albemarle’s Jack Burns slapped a solid single to lead off the second inning, but Harlow again fanned the side to end the frame.

Will Wallace reached after lofting a hard to catch fly ball into short center, but Halifax did not score after a force out to end the second.

Albemarle took advantage of a Comet infield error and the runner was advanced on a sacrifice bunt. But with a runner in scoring position, Harlow escaped further trouble. He got the final out of the inning - his seventh strikeout - on nasty off-speed stuff. AHS stranded a runner at third.

Clark drove a double to get into scoring position with one out in the bottom of the third. Tyler Mabe then brought in the first run of the game on a shot to center that was briefly misfielded by Albemarle.

Shaun Perkins looped a shot to left center, and Albemarle made a defensive mistake on the relay. Both runners got into scoring position.

Mabe scampered home on a wild pitch, beating a throw to the plate.

Troy Ferrell sent a RBI single past the infield, getting courtesy runner Dylan Newton home for a 3-0 Comet lead in the third.

Zach Lowery reached on an error to start the Comet fourth. Lowery then pilfered second, and Duffer broke it open with a deep two-run blast for a 5-0 Comet lead.

Clark laced his third double of the night off Albemarle reliever Jett Shoe. Clark went to third on a wild pitch. With two out, Perkins walked, but the threat ended on a liner to third off the bat of Ferrell.

Harlow closed the shutout in the top of the seventh.

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