BRISTOL, Va. – John Battle High School’s leadoff man led the way and his impact was immediate.
Senior Austin Widner jumpstarted a nine-run first inning as the Trojans made quick work of Wise County Central, 12-2, on Friday night in a Clinch Mountain Conference baseball game.
Widner connected for a double on Central southpaw Jake Flanary’s fourth pitch of the game, beginning an offensive outpouring that didn’t end until John Battle (10-8) had sent 13 hitters to the plate and held a 9-0 advantage.
Widner scored twice himself in the first-inning uprising.
“We were just on fire,” Widner said. “We came out hot and came prepared to play. We’ve been starting a little lazier the past few games, but our coaches told us to come out ready and we were.”
Widner’s entrenchment at the top spot of the Trojans’ batting order has taken time.
“I tried to be the leadoff man last year, but I wasn’t ready for it,” Widner said. “But this year, it’s kind of been mine.”
Battle’s only home run of the season belongs to Widner and the speedster has played a steady center field too.
“Austin has developed himself into the leadoff spot and he’s earned that,” said John Battle coach Keith Davis. “As of late, the past four or five games, he’s really started to see the ball better and has been putting good swings on balls. When he gets on, it allows us to do a lot of things from the running aspect and gives us the opportunity to push across runs early.”
Battle ace Gavin Felty struck out seven in spinning a two-hitter and not only benefitted from his run support, but contributed to it. Felty was 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
“Gavin is a competitor in anything that he does and that’s what helps him be so effective,” Davis said. “He’s not one of the harder throwers in our conference, but in my opinion he’s just as effective because he can throw three pitches for strikes and he’s going to give you everything he’s got, every time he goes out there. He gave us another quality outing.”
Alex Adkins accounted for both of Central’s hits, while J.P. Stallard and Grayson Hall scored the Warriors’ runs. Six errors and a run-producing balk cost Central, which has had a case of the Bristol blues this spring.
The Warriors suffered a 13-3 loss to Virginia High on Thursday, while Battle has blasted them by scores of 12-2 and 16-5.
“I didn’t think we did anything wrong, we just teed it up,” said Central coach Brian Mills. “They hit it everywhere we weren’t. They’ve played us twice and both games they’ve hit the ball like that.”
Hunter Brown supplied two hits for Battle, while Matt Tipton drove in two runs. The Trojans close out the regular-season next week with games against Lee High and Virginia High.
They were in total control on Friday.
“Obviously, when you can put that many runs in one inning to get going and then give a guy like Gavin Felty the ball,” Davis said. “You feel pretty confident.”