Gibson's relief effort helps Grafton hold off Jamestown in showdown for first place in Bay Rivers District baseball

Trey Gibson’s solid relief effort for Grafton salvaged a 7-5 victory over Jamestown in the showdown on Thursday at Grafton for first place in Bay Rivers District baseball. Gibson pitched two scoreless innings to stifle a rally by the Eagles, who had cut a five-run deficit to one with four runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Gibson, a junior committed to pitch for Liberty University, was pitching for the first time in the two weeks since injuring his knee. He struck out four in his two-inning stint, but walked two and hit a batter, so it helped that he benefitted from a great defensive play by Clippers’ third baseman Jack Daszkowski as well as a favorable decision by the umpires.

Grafton (8-1, 8-0 district) had added a run in the bottom of the sixth inning on Andrew Shartzer’s RBI groundout to make it 7-5. But the Eagles put the first two runners on base in the seventh via a walk and error, and Bobby Dudeck moved them to second and third bases with a sacrifice bunt.

The Eagles went to the bunt again with one out, and Corey Cormeaux laid down a nice one. But Daszkowski charged on the ball from third base and threw to catcher Tyler Cotten, who tagged Josh Ammons at the plate for the second out.

It appeared that Gibson loaded the bases when he hit the next batter, Isaac Tucker, with two strikes. But, after a conference, the umpires ruled that Tucker had swung at the pitch before it hit him, ending the game.

It was wild finish to a much-anticipated matchup, and not only because the Clippers entered the contest one game ahead of the Eagles (6-3, 6-2) in the district standings. The meeting was their first since the teams met in the Class 4 state semifinals, a Jamestown victory that avenged three previous losses to the Clippers in 2018, including one in the Class 4 Region A championship game.

Mark Petko started the game on the mound in fine fashion for the Clippers, using his effective curveball to strike out four in the first two innings. Jamestown starter Colin Boll was, by contrast, wild early and Ryan Holloway and Shartzer took advantage of the base runners with RBI singles to give the Clippers a 2-0 lead after an inning.

Zach Wojarowski’s sacrifice fly to left and Tyler Cotten’s run-scoring single to left increased the lead to 4-0 after two innings, and it appeared the Clippers were on their way to an easy victory. But Grafton gifted Jamestown a run in the top of the third inning by making two throwing errors on the same play, as the Clippers’ five errors on the day would help Jamestown climb back into contention.

Grafton added runs in the third and fourth innings, increasing its lead to 6-1, but Petko tired in the top of the fifth and Jamestown manufactured four runs to pull to within 6-5. Petko hit two batters and walked another, while Boll had an RBI single in the frame.

Aggressive base running by the Eagles, and more sloppy defense by the Clippers, accounted for the other runs. But the Clippers held on, thanks to Gibson’s sturdy relief effort and the run they manufactured in the bottom of the sixth, which scored on Shartzer’s groundout.

“We didn’t play our best, but we competed and Jamestown competed,” Grafton coach Matt Lewellen said. “They a tough ball team, but we got the win although it wasn’t pretty.”

GRAFTON 7, JAMESTOWN 5

Jamestown 001 040 0 – 5 5 2

Grafton 221 101 x – 7 7 5

W: Petko. L: Boll. Standouts: Grafton, Hodges 2-3 (2 runs), Wojnarowski 1-2 (double, RBI, 2 runs. Records: Jamestown 6-3 overall, 6-2 district; Grafton 8-1

Marty O’Brien, 757-247-4963, mobrien@dailypress.com Twitter @MartyOBrienDP

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