Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
BAINBRIDGE — In his postgame interview on Monday, Dewey Dailey summed up the night’s storyline in two sentences.
“We got hammered the entire game and then we doubled their runs in the last inning. So you can’t ever count yourself out.”
Simple. Straight to the point.
And, in Monday’s 4-2 win over Paint Valley, it was unequivocally true.
For six innings, Bearcats starter Brock Blanton completely shut down Unioto’s bats. Heading into the top of the seventh, the Shermans (3-1, 1-0 SVC) had mustered just two hits and had struck out seven times.
But when Carson DeBord drew a leadoff walk to begin the team’s final at-bat, followed by a single from Braxton Platt, you could smell something brewing.
“We got a little bit more patient at the plate,” Unioto coach Tony Taylor said. “We finally got a bunt down and, if you do things the right way, if you go up there with the right attitude and want to do what you’re supposed to do, it changes the entire chemistry of the game. That’s just it.”
While a four-run rally in the top of the seventh will, and should, dominate headlines, it should also be noted that it would’ve never taken place without a superb pitching performance from Cameron DeBord.
The Shermans’ southpaw ace tossed a complete game without surrendering an earned run. He gave up five hits, issued three walks and fanned nine hitters.
“[Paint Valley’s Brock] Blanton is big-time. He’s a Division I specimen,” Taylor said. “He pitched a great game. But Cam did as well. He’s got a slider that you just can’t pick up. Guys swing over top of it and if he gets ahead of you, his fastball is fast enough to zip by you.”
The Bearcats (4-2, 0-1 SVC) struck the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning when Trent Mettler singled to score Cyrus Beavers. That 1-0 edge grew to 2-0 in the fifth when Connor Free lined a ball into right field, scoring Blanton, who had reached on error.
With Blanton dealing, Paint Valley held onto that 2-0 lead until the top of the seventh.
And then the wheels fell off.
After Carson DeBord drew the leadoff walk, Platt singled into center field. Two pitches later, Landyn Patterson reached on a throwing error and, all of the sudden, the bases were loaded with no outs.
That’s when Dailey put the Shermans on the board with an RBI single that scored DeBord. Trailing 2-1, Ashton Crace stepped to the plate and reached on the inning’s second fielding error, forcing a 2-2 tie as Platt crossed home plate.
Next, with the bases still loaded, Andrew Lemaster lined a hard-hit ball to shortstop that made its way past Mettler into left field. Patterson and Dailey came around to score and Unioto had seized a 4-2 lead to stun Paint Valley.
In the bottom half of the inning, Cameron DeBord sealed the deal with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out the final two hitters.
“I just felt like I could use my defense behind me. I knew they were going to make plays,” DeBord said. “I just kept throwing. I had a few walks and didn’t let that phase me. I just kept going. My curveball was working. I haven’t been able to use that a lot in the past. But this year, it’s been working for me.”
Dailey led the way at the dish, finishing 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, while Lemaster was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Patterson and Platt each went 1-for-3 with a run.
As for the Bearcats, Mettler ended the night 2-for-4 with an RBI while Free was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Dax Estep also had a hit, going 1-for-3.
Blanton’s final pitching line in a tough-luck loss consisted of 6 ⅓ innings of work alongside four hits allowed and nine strikeouts.
Unioto gets right back to it on Tuesday, facing Jackson at VA Memorial Stadium, while Paint Valley attempts to bounce back on Wednesday at Westfall.
“We’ve got to come out swinging the bats,” Taylor said. “If we’re going to win, I’d guess you’re going to be looking at an 11-10 ballgame, or something like that. I’d be surprised if it was any different. So we’ll have to be ready.”