J.R. Tidwell/FCT Riley Nolan (4) of Tharptown throws a pitch against Vina Monday evening at Vina. Nolan picked up five strikeouts against the Red Devils.

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Tharptown Wildcats defeat Vina Red Devils

Published 6:00am Wednesday, March 28, 2012

VINA — The Tharptown Wildcats handed the Vina Red Devils a rare loss on the baseball diamond Thursday night with a 7-4 victory in a game that wore on well into the night.

The Red Devils ground away at Tharptown’s lead through the later innings but were unable to overcome the Wildcats’ big early lead.

“I’m so glad to win this game,” Tharptown head coach Derek Ergle said. “Tonight’s win is another stepping stone for our program.”

The Wildcats took full advantage of a couple of errors in the top of the first inning.

Kelby Hallmark scored on a wild throw, and then shortly thereafter Will Washington scored on another wild throw.

Timothy Bryant scored on a bases loaded walk, and then Colton Blankenship rounded out the inning for Tharptown with an RBI single.

The 4-0 lead in the first proved to be the deciding factor in the game, but Vina would have tied it up if not for some Tharptown insurance runs later on.

“The first inning was a disaster,” Vina head coach Greg Hamilton said. “We were never able to overcome it. They scored four and I don’t know if they had a hit.”

The Wildcats added their first insurance run in the top of the third when Bryant scored from third on a bases-loaded balk.

Vina was finally able to get on the board in the bottom of the inning when Taylor Hamilton hit a sacrifice groundball to score Nick Schmittou.

Tharptown added to its lead in the top of the fourth.

Blankenship put a bunt down just inside the first base line and legged out a single, moving Hallmark over to third. Washington scored Hallmark on a sac fly to put the Wildcats up 6-1.

The Red Devils scored another run in the bottom of the inning in exceptional fashion.

Andrew Hester made a check swing against a pitch from Tharptown’s Riley Nolan, but was unable to pull the bat far enough away to keep from making contact with the ball.

The result was an accidental bunt that scored Drake Hester from third.

Nolan contributed for his team on the other side of the ball in the sixth.

He hit a double that scored Washington from second, mostly due to Washington’s base running.

Vina had its best inning at the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Drake Hester picked up a base hit with Hamilton already on base.

Andrew Hester then brought in both runners with a two RBI single on a fast groundball that rolled between the second baseman and shortstop into center field.

Vina was unable to keep the rally going, and neither team scored in the final inning.

“Riley pitched a great ballgame for us,” Ergle said. “That was huge for us and kept us in the game.”

Nolan pitched all seven innings for Tharptown, giving up four runs off six hits with five strikeouts and only one walk.

“To get an early lead and never give up is great for our young players,” Ergle said.

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