Two more strong pitching performances go for naught

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Derrick Chocklett pitches Byrd to a win over William Fleming last week in Vinton. PHOTO BY BRIAN HOFFMAN
Byrd shortstop Hunter Meador throws off-balance to first to get an out at Staunton River. PHOTO BY REGINA DEVINNEY

Weather permitting, the William Byrd baseball team will be in Daleville today to take on traditional rival Lord Botetourt. Game time is 5 pm.

Byrd has had the upper hand over LB over the years, but the Cavaliers are having a good season with an 8-4 record thus far. Byrd is just 5-8 and hoping to get some momentum heading toward the post-season.

Botetourt’s field has been a launching pad for the Terriers in years past. The likes of Mark Reynolds, Josh Herman, Bo Royal and others cleared the high-but-short leftfield fence at LB with regularity, often causing runners on the LB track duck the incoming missles off Terrier bats.

This year, that hasn’t been the case. Through 13 games a William Byrd player has yet to hit a home run. That has to be a first since Terrier Field was constructed over 30 years ago.

“We have people who can hit them out, but haven’t had one yet,” said Byrd coach Neil Zimmerman. “I don’t know why. I stay up nights trying to figure it out.”

The Terriers pitching has been good this year, but for the second year in a row the offense has sputtered. Last Friday at home the Terriers lost to Franklin County, 1-0, wasting another solid pitching performance by Bryce Boothe.

A sophomore, Boothe has started four games against good teams and has allowed just six runs total. He’s yet to get a win for his efforts, including last Friday’s complete game. He took a shutout into the sixth before the Eagles scored the only run of the game. Grant Watson and Bryce Mullen had two hits each for Byrd in the loss.

On Tuesday in Moneta Byrd jumped to an early 3-0 lead over homestanding Staunton River. Watson got the first inning started with a single, stole second and moved to third on Macon Hale’s single. Grant scored on a fielder’s choice and Matthew Parrish singled in Hale for a 2-0 lead.

Byrd made it 3-0 in the third when Hale walked, moved to third on a couple pitches in the dirt and scored on an errant throw by the catcher. That was how it stood after five innings with Derrick Chocklett breezing on the mound for Byrd.

However, things went south in the bottom of the sixth. The Eagles rallied for five runs off Chocklett and reliever Adam North and pulled out the win.

“We were right there,” said Zimmerman. “Derrick pitched great for five innings, but he hit a wall. He missed much of the season with an injury and that was as long as he’s gone this year. He shut out a good team for five innings.”

Chocklett struck out eight and allowed just two earned runs. Watson had two hits for Byrd.

Byrd had Rockbridge at home on Wednesday and Gehrig Spradlin was scheduled to start that one on the mound. Boothe is scheduled to pitch tonight at LB, but the weather forecast calls for rain again. Then Byrd is off until next Tuesday at Northside.