By Rick Sheek
Hunter Townsend stuck with the heater on Monday night, and was an iron man on the mound.
The left-hander struck out 15 batters and walked nine, hurling a one-hitter in guiding Horace Mann Insurance to an 8-3 victory over Piney Bluff in Elizabethton National Babe Ruth baseball action . The rising Happy Valley sophomore carried a no-hit bit into the seventh inning at Elizabethton High School.
“I don’t care about the no-hitter, as much as just rookie mistakes,” Townsend said. “Like can’t catch, can’t field, can’t throw strikes, can’t get the ball back to me. As far as the no-hitter, it would have been nice to get one, but other than that it didn’t really matter as much to me as everybody thinks.”
Indeed, all three Piney Bluff runs were unearned. Horace Mann committed four on the evening.
Piney Bluff’s Mitchell Snapp led off the seventh with a single to right field, before being thrown out attempting to steal third base by Scotty Oliver.
Townsend struck out the next batter. A pair of runners crossed on errors, before a walk and put-out ended the affair.
“He said, ‘I’m ready to play. I want to play,’ “ Horace Mann coach Rick Walters said. “He has a good arm, and he’s played a lot in high school. He’s made it through a lot of games, and he didn’t want to come out. He had a no-hitter going, so it’s kind of hard to pull somebody.”
Brady Varner batted 2 for 2. Nate Childress was 2 for 3.
Horace Mann surged to a 5-0 advantage in the first inning. A run was walked in and a runner was plated on a passed ball.
Zack Whaley drove in a run. Daniel Runion delivered a two-run single.
Townsend fanned the side in the first. He struck out two in the second, with Oliver accounting for the other out by gunning down a baserunner.
Childress walked in the second, before stealing second base and getting thrown out trying to steal third. A double play retired Horace Mann in the third.
Piney Bluff had stranded a runner in the third.
The fourth saw Horace Mann go up 7-0. With two out, Varner doubles before pair of runners crossed on two errors.
In the fifth, Snapp stole home to trim the deficit to 7-1. He had reached on an error and advanced on a wild pitch.
Horace Mann built its cushion to 8-1 in the sixth. Runion walked, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on an error.
In the bottom half, Piney Bluff stranded runners on second and third base.
“We did good hitting,” Townsend said. “We did better than we were. Our infield didn’t help us any.
“Our catcher wasn’t really on target throwing to second. Other than that, we could have done better.”
Dylan Wolfe hurled six innings for Piney Bluff.
He was touched for five hits, allowed five earned runs, fanned two and walked seven with two wild pitches.
In closing, Tyler White sent Horace Mann down 1-2-3.
Townsend unloaded one wild pitch. He said he was confident enough in his fastball that he didn’t bother to use many breaking pitches.
“He did good,” Walters said. “He worked through everything. He was throwing good balls.”
Snapp stole two bases.
“The kids in our infield, after (Piney Bluff) struck out so many times I don’t guess they were awake,” Townsend said. “We had rookie mistakes, just going through the motions. But other than that I think everybody did a pretty good job.”