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Five-run fourth inning carries Hillbillies past Bison

Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports

MAN Class A No. 3 Man plated five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, erasing an early two-run deficit to defeat Buffalo 11-2 Thursday evening in the Class A Region 4 Section 1 tournament at William Tootie Carter Field.

The Hillbillies (19-8), the top seed in the section tournament, advance to the championship and will face either second seed Sherman or third seed Buffalo on Saturday. The Tide eliminated fourth seed Tug Valley 16-0 Thursday while Buffalo defeated Sherman 7-5 on Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s contest against Man.

Buffalo jumped on top of Man 2-0 in the top of the first inning. Caleb Nutter had a run-scoring double and Jonah Wilfong a run-scoring single to drive in runs for the Bison.

Man starting pitcher Preston Blankenship lasted just 2/3 innings and was relieved by Braxton Messer. Blankenship allowed two runs on three hits and walked two batters.

Man tied the contest 2-2 in the second inning on a Colton Miller sacrifice fly and a Bo Thompson steal of home.

Jace Adkins got the five-run fourth started with a run-scoring groundout and Caleb Vance followed with a two-run double to give Man a 5-2 lead. Caleb Blevins had an RBI double and Brady Hall-Montgomery an RBI single to close the frame.

“We made some adjustments, were fortunate enough go get off to a good start, and it just opened the floodgates for us,” Man coach Mike Crosby said.

Leading 7-2, the Hillbillies tacked on four additional runs in the sixth inning as Blevins had a run-scoring triple to give Man an 8-2 lead and scored on Blankenship’s single to make it 9-2. Hall-Montgomery added a run-scoring double and Thompson closed out the frame with a single to make it 11-2.

Messer picked up the win in relief of Blankenship for the Hillbillies. Messer allowed three hits and struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings.

Following the game, Crosby praised Messer and third base coach Jack Daniels.

“Braxton pitched a heck of a game,” Crosby said. “Coach Daniels was definitely on top of his game, calling the game at third and putting pressure on the defense.”

Cameron Wallace suffered the loss for Buffalo after allowing five runs on four hits and four walks in three innings. AJ Kidd allowed two runs on three hits and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. Bryce Downey allowed four runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Nutter had two hits and drove in one run while Wilfong had one hit and one RBI. Logan Cook and Seth Landers each had one hit for Buffalo.

Blevins had three hits, scored two runs and drove in two while Thompson had three hits and one RBI for Man. Messer had two hits while Vance had one hit and two RBIs.

Adkins and Blankenship each had one hit and one RBI while Miller drove in one run for the Hillbillies.

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