EMORY, Va. - A coach designs a game plan either in his mind or perhaps on paper or his laptop, but rarely does the ol’ ballclub play it out any better than the Patrick Henry Rebels did on their home turf Tuesday night.
Turning in a near-perfect baseball game, Patrick Henry nabbed a Final Four berth with a sparkling 6-3 Class 1 quarterfinal win over the Galax Maroon Tide.
“We’ve talked all year about not giving gifts and extra outs, and tonight we gave nothing,” said veteran Rebel coach Timmy Thomas. “That was very clean.”
The Rebels will take an 18-6 record into Friday’s 10 a.m. semifinal at Pulaski’s Calfee Park against Lancaster, a 5-0 quarterfinal winner over William Campbell.
After losing in last year’s state semifinals, PH has a better idea this go ‘round.
“The sky’s the limit,” said senior leader Isaac Eldreth. “I have a lot of faith in our guys. There are three other good teams left, but we can do this.”
The Rebels, who banged out 13 base hits and committed nary an error while getting a complete-game mound performance from the left-handed Eldreth, looked the part of a championship contender against Galax.
“Hats off to those guys over there,” said Galax coach Bobby Parnell, whose Tide finished 13-13 in the face of a mean schedule. “They battle non-stop. I knew it was going to be a tough game for us, them being in the Final Four last year. We battled, but we lost to a great, well-coached team.”
Eldreth went the distance and allowed seven hits and two walks to gain the win, plus he slapped an RBI single in the fifth to give PH the lead for good at 4-3.
Three batters later, Isaac Presley smacked a two-out, two-run single to provide the Rebels with their ultimate 6-3 edge - and Eldreth a little breathing room.
“I’ve not hit well the last five games or so, so I stayed yesterday and got some extra pitches in the cage,” said Eldreth, who had two hits. “And that helped.”
But it was Eldreth on the hill that was the difference, along with Colby Taylor’s 4-for-4 effort, which included a two-run home run, a double and two singles.
A junior who launched a no-doubt shot out of right field, Taylor’s first career homer helped PH to a 3-0 advantage through three innings.
“I knew it was gone,” said Taylor. “No way to describe the feeling of that moment, but I knew I had to help my team.”
Galax scored two runs in the fourth on a Cole Pickett single, before a Kolby Barnes base knock tied the game at 3-3 with one out in the fifth.
The Maroon Tide loaded the bases with two outs, but PH third baseman Ean Rhea turned in a clutch play to produce a ground-ball out and end the threat.
Left fielder Drew Miller, who had three hits for PH, also had an outfield assist to short-circuit a Galax threat in the sixth inning.
“I had a tough 30-pitch stretch that could have come back to bite us,” Eldreth said. “But I knew I just had to make them put it in play and we’d get to it.
“I only struck out two and there are 21 outs, so you can see that it was my outfield and my infield making the plays for us defensively.”
Jake Eisert walked with the bases loaded to push across the game’s first run.
Barnes had three base hits for the Tide, which also played error-free defense.
Right-handed Trent Tilley, who allowed the three-run Patrick Henry fifth after relieving starter Travis Spencer in the fourth, took the loss for Galax.
Galax 0002100- 3 7 0
Patrick Henry 102030x – 6 13 0
A.Spencer, Tilley (4) and Barnes; Eldreth and Smithson. W-Eldreth. L-Spencer. HR-Taylor (PH) 3rd, one on.