South Granville pulls away late for win over Bulldogs

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Nash Central’s Chase Minshew, right, lunges out to tag South Granville’s Austin Bailey Saturday at Nash Central High School.


Sports Writer

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Nash Central’s seven-run home loss on Saturday afternoon would have been a beauty if ties were accepted and baseball was a five-inning game.

But alas, the sixth and seventh innings count, too, and South Granville was ready to make them count.

Behind a strong pitching performance from Nash Central’s Andrew Page, the Bulldogs were facing a 1-1 tie through five innings that took only 52 minutes to play. But then the Vikings, who reached the 2-A semifinals last season, found the floodgates, scoring four in the sixth inning and another three in the seventh for the 8-1 non-conference victory over the Bulldogs, a rescheduled rainout game from earlier in the season that was also Nash Central’s third game in three days.

“It was 8-1 but it felt like a 3-1 ball game,” South Granville coach Kenny May said. “We took advantage of a couple of things, but the score was definitely not indicative of how tight that game was.”

Page ended up going six innings for a thin Bulldogs pitching staff, allowing the five runs on nine hits, five strikeouts, two walks and two hit batters, including one to start the four-run sixth inning for the Vikings.

Chandler Padgett pitched the three-run seventh, though only one run was earned.

“We knew coming into the day we didn’t have a lot of pitching, so he really did great,” Nash Central coach Willie Langley said. “One bad inning.”

After that hit batter on a pitch in the dirt, Page relented a double, then a walk, for a bases-loaded-no-out scenario.

He went up 2-0 on the next hitter, but allowed a double a few pitches later to score two. The other two runs came on a groundout and an infield hit.

“The hit batter to start, that probably got in Andrew’s head a little bit. That’s how it starts,” Langley said. “Then it keeps snowballing.”

Page’s cohort, Hayden Laws, a contact-throwing lefty, crafted his way to the one-run win on just five hits allowed. Of Law’s 21-out complete game, only two came by strikeout. He forced 12 outs on ground balls and the rest on liners, pop-ups and flyballs.

“He’s going to be around the strike zone. He can throw three pitches for strikes,” May said. “We wanted him to keep it down and we want to play defense behind him.”

The lone run for the Bulldogs came from serious legwork by Chandler Padgett, the No. 9 hitter. In the third, he began the inning with a single off Laws. He stole second, then third, but was stranded there after three straight outs by the top of the order.

In the fifth, this time with two outs, he singled again, stole second again, and was finally hit home on a double by Payton Bass. Padgett, a junior and first-year varsity player, accounted for 40 percent of Nash Central’s hits in his only two at-bats.

“He seems to be getting his confidence now,” Langley said. “He’s probably a higher in the order hitter, but I think this game was big for him.”

While the game was still tied, Bulldogs catcher Chase Minshew nabbed two Vikings baserunners trying to steal, something most area teams have given up on trying to do.

“These guys tried him a few times and he’s lights out back there,” Langley said. “I wish they had tried to run a couple more times on him in that sixth inning.”