R-H baseball’s epic run comes to close

Published 8:28 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Randolph-Henry High School varsity baseball team’s remarkable 2016 season came to an end in the Region 2A West Tournament semifinals on June 1.

The Statesman lost 7-5 to Grayson County High School at the Tazewell Sports Complex.

“We played hard,” R-H Head Coach J.R. Allen said. “We got behind. We came back, so they never let down, and we fought for seven innings.”

The Blue Devils twice took early leads, and the Statesmen twice responded to tie the game.

It was in the fourth inning when the Statesmen were not able to respond as the Blue Devils took a 4-3 lead that they grew to 7-3 in the sixth. R-H scored its final two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Allen said the deciding factor of the game was “just our inability to throw strikes consistently. We didn’t pitch very well. We didn’t pitch bad. We just didn’t pitch as good as we pitched throughout the year.”

Grayson County out-hit Randolph-Henry 10-6, while the teams had two errors apiece.

Statesmen junior Joshua Jones (0-1) pitched four innings, allowing four runs and throwing four strikeouts, taking the loss. Junior Raleigh Duffer finished out the game.

On offense, Jones went 2-for-4, with a two-run home run in the first inning, and scored two runs. Senior Cameron Vassar went 2-for-4 with two RBI.

Randolph-Henry finished the season with a 20-3 record, it outscored its opponents 202-46 and it won its second Courthouse Conference 37 Tournament championship in three years.

“It was a very successful year,” Allen said. “Can’t take nothing away from the guys. They worked hard all year to accomplish the record that they had. So overall, I thought it was a fantastic season.”

The Statesmen’s success was reflected in its conference and regional accolades. Vassar was named the 2016 Region 2A West Baseball Player of the Year, and he made the all-region first team as a pitcher and senior Joseph Reed made it as an outfielder.

Jones, as a shortstop, and senior designated hitter Grayson Crawford made the second team.

Allen was voted conference Coach of the Year for the second time in three years, and Vassar was voted conference Player of the Year.

Vassar finished the year with 38 hits, including 20 singles, 12 doubles, two triples and four home runs. He had 30 RBI, 17 runs scored and four stolen bases.

As a pitcher, he went 7-0, throwing 102 strikeouts, one no-hitter and allowing 19 hits, 11 runs, eight earned runs and 19 walks in 46 innings.

A four-year letterman who will pitch in college for James Madison University, Vassar was named to the all-conference first team as both a pitcher and a second baseman. He was joined on the first team by Reed, Jones and Crawford.

Making the second team was Duffer, as a pitcher, and sophomore outfielder Carter Strickland.