Triton’s varsity baseball team edged visiting Tri-County Six 3-A Conference opponent Lee County for a 5-4 Senior Night win in eight innings on Thursday night when senior Colton Neighbors was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score junior Christian Tyndall in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“After the game, I said it was probably not two of our best-looking ball games (Triton beat Union Pines 9-5 at home on Wednesday), as far as it being clean all the way around,” said Triton coach Joey Miriello. “But good teams find a way to win and that’s two nights in a row where we’ve found a way to win. As long as we keep winning, I don’t care how ugly it is.”
Freshman right-hander Hayden Pope was the winning pitcher for the Hawks (10-4, 6-2 TCSC), giving up no runs on one hit and four walks, with two strikeouts, in two innings of relief. Pope was the fourth pitcher the Hawks used in the game.
“It was kind of big that we came out with that win,” Miriello said. “Once we went to Hayden, we kind of said, ‘Alright, we’re going to go all-in on this ball game to make sure we get the win and we’ll worry about tomorrow’s ball game tomorrow.’ This game was just as important as tomorrow’s game, as far as conference standings, so we wanted to get it.”
Senior Brayden Cotten was the pitcher of record for the Yellow Jackets (7-7, 2-4), yielding one earned run on one hit, four walks and three hit batters, with two strikeouts, across two and one-third innings of relief.
Tyndall had three hits, including a double, and two runs scored to lead Triton at the plate.
Dalen Thompson had two hits. Neighbors had a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Parker Crews had one hit and one run scored. Grayson Bradham had one hit. Austin Riewestahl scored once.
Junior Ryan Jones had two hits and a run scored to lead Lee County.
Lee County loaded the bases on five different occasions and produced only a combined four runs from those opportunities. The Yellow Jackets left a total of 17 runners stranded on base in the game.
“We always say, ‘Minimize the damage,’” Miriello said. “When we get runners on, we want to minimize the damage. There’s a chance we might give up a run, but let’s not make it four. Let’s minimize the damage as much as we can and give us a chance to stay in the ball game.”
Prior to the game, Triton honored six seniors: Bert Strickland, Colton Neighbors, Colby Parker, Austin Riewestahl, Parker Crews and Greg Godwin.
“These seniors have been through it all with me,” Miriello said. “They’ve been through success and they’ve been through failure. And now we’re back to success. At no time during any of those seasons did their attitude or work ethic ever waver. They were always committed to doing whatever they could to help us win, 100 percent of the time. A lot of our success this year, in my opinion, is due to the senior leadership that we’ve had this year. I think it’s been one of our best assets.”
Lee loaded the bases with two out in the top of the first inning, but only scored one run when Heath Yow was hit by a pitch to score Cotten.
Triton scored four runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead. Crews and Tyndall led off with back-to-back hits and advanced on a Greg Godwin sacrifice. Crews scored on a wild pitch that advanced Tyndall to third, putting him in position to score on a passed ball. Riewestahl drew a walk, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a double from Neighbors, who stole third and scored on another wild pitch.
Lee again loaded the bases with two out in the fourth, but once again scored just one run when Carson Kelly drew a walk to score Jones.
Lee loaded the bases again in the top of the seventh with one out. Yow scored when Cotten drew a walk and Nolan Brown scored when Clay Beal reached on a fielder’s choice, tying the game.
Lee loaded the bases for the fifth time with one out in the top of the eighth, but a pop up to Thompson, at short, and a strikeout retired the side with no damage done.
Tyndall led off the bottom of the eighth with a double and Pope was intentionally walked. Both advanced on a passed ball before Riewestahl was intentionally walked to load the bases. Cotten got a strikeout for the first out, but on the next at-bat, Neighbors was hit by a pitch to score Tyndall for the walk-off win.
“We’ll get it however we can get it,” Miriello said.
Triton will have its third game in three days on Friday when the Hawks travel to conference foe Union Pines (8-8, 2-4), weather permitting.