Photo/Zach Buckley

Stringer was on point at the plate Wednesday night during the opening game of the 1A South State baseball series against Hamilton. Cayleb Dyess blasted two homeruns, and Jackson Parker also belted a dinger for the Devils. In fact, the entire team absolutely crushed the baseball in an 11-1 run-rule decision that ended after five innings of play in Stringer.

“We prepared to see one arm the past two days, and we saw another one today that was different than what we thought we’d see. They didn’t freak out, and they responded. They just started off hot, and stayed hot the whole day,” Stringer head coach Wade Weathers said of his team following the victory.

Stringer dealt out 12 hits in the short game.

“We just kept scoring runs and getting hits; extra base hits, homeruns, doubles. That’s just a credit to our guys for sticking to an approach and executing a plan,” Weathers continued.

Andrew Nix tossed a shut-out game for Stringer through four innings. After working out of an early jam in the top of the first that left Hamilton runners stranded on second and third, Nix went on to limit the Lions at the plate. During his time on the mound, the senior fanned three, gave up only three hits [two in the first inning], and walked none. Stringer’s defense was also stellar behind Nix on the hump.

“He [Nix] went four [innings], and we got him out of there so we might could possibly use him again in the series,” Weathers explained “You just get what you get with him. He’s not going to overpower, but he is going to throw strikes. He’s going to change speeds, has a really good curveball, and locates his fastball in and out, up and down. He was able to keep his pitch count low, and that is when he is at his best.

“The defense made plays behind him. We tell them if you make the routine play, you will have a shot to win, and tonight we made the routine play.”

Stringer went to work quickly at the plate. Cayleb Dyess blasted a solo homerun to lead the game off in the bottom of the first. Conner Hicks then walked, and Jackson Parker toasted a two-run homer to dead center to give the Devils a 3-0 lead before Hamilton got out of the frame.

In the bottom of the second, Evan Holifield got an infield hit, and with one out, Conner Smith grounded through the center of the infield for a double that moved Holifield to third. Dyess stepped to the plate again and roped a long ball way over the left field wall for a three-run homer to hand Stringer a 6-0 cushion.

Nix and the Devils quickly sat down the Hamilton side in the top of the of the third.

The Red Devils offense plated two more runs in the bottom half of the third.. Gunner James earned a leadoff walk, and Holifield was hit by a pitch. Hunter Burkeen put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners [Omarion Bridges running for James and Holifield]. Smith sacrificed to score Bridges, and during his third trip to the plate, Dyess crushed a double off the left field wall to plate Holifield.

The Lions were sat down in order in the top of the fourth, and Stringer put up three more runs for an 11-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Jackson Parker doubled to right field, and Jake Parker ripped a single to center to score his younger brother. James then reached first on a throwing error, and Jake Parker stood at second. Hamilton’s second baseman later booted a ball put into play by Holifield that scored Jake Parker. Burkeen then bunted for a hit to load the bases with one out. Smith hit into a fielder’s choice that punched out Holifield at third, but Bridges, running for James again, plated the eleventh run of the game for the Devils.

Jean Davis entered to pitch for Stringer in the top of the fifth. He struck out two, and gave up a run, but the forced a grounder to short to end the game.

Getting game one behind them with a win in the books was important to Weathers and his team.

“It’s huge. You don’t want to say you have a cushion, because you want to go sweep them right now. But, we have given ourselves that breathing room to rest people like Andrew Nix on the mound,” he mentioned. “We’ll send Conner Hicks out there [to pitch] tomorrow [Thursday] to try and win the series and go on to Jackson.”

Stringer (24-9) will travel to Hamilton (21-5) Thursday for game two, which is slated to begin at 6 p.m.

(Article by Heath Walley)

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