Virginia High coach Mark Daniels knew Madison County could hit the ball and put up runs. So what’d he do to stop them?
“Started Austin Miles,” Daniels said.
Fair enough. Miles was just a pitch away from a perfect game and finished off a one-error, one-walk no-hitter to help Virginia High beat Madison 12-0 in the VHSL Group 2A state semifinal.
“He was beyond on his game there, it’s tough to beat a pitcher who throws a no-hitter against you,” said Madison coach David Londrey. “We get one base runner in the last inning? It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says then, as long as there’s one crooked number up there (for them).”
Miles struck out seven Madison batters and extended his scoreless inning streak to 29.3 straight innings. Dylan Berry was the first Madison player to reach a base when he drew a two-out, full-count walk in the seventh-inning, ending Miles’ perfect game bid. Miles was marvelous though, keeping the Mountaineers off balance throughout while his offense capitalized on four Madison errors in the opening two innings to jump out to a 5-0 lead over the Mountaineers.
“They played a great game and I thought our boys did what they could and they took advantage of our mistakes,” Londrey said. “We had four errors — at this level you can’t do that.”
While the errors put Madison in the hole, Virginia High’s bats made it deeper, with hits up and down the lineup. Even the Bearcats pinch hitters came up big as Chris Stine blasted a two-run shot in the sixth inning then traveled over the tall scoreboard in left center at Kiwanis Field in Salem. Alex Griffith exploded for four RBIs including the first two-run homerun of the game by the Bearcats.
“Today was a good team effort and we’ve got one more to go,” Daniels said. “My scouting report on Madison was that, number one, they can swing the sticks. We knew that coming in and luckily Austin was on it. When you swing the bats like we are right now it takes a lot of pressure off your pitching and defense.”
Madison couldn’t find an answer for that offensive onslaught, as Miles continued to mow through the order. Despite rallying from way down and piling up runs at times during the conference and regional tournaments, Madison’s bats ran out of gas all at once against Virginia High.
“These boys have clawed and scratched their way back all season long,” Londrey said. “I’ve not been around a group like this. Being a seven seed in our conference and making it all the way here. Nobody was expecting that.”
Madison’s season ends with the loss while Virginia High will face Strasburg in the championship game Saturday.