Monday's summer ball game between Valdosta and Cairo was shaping up to a pitcher’s duel.
At least that was the case until Dayton Hall assumed the mound.
Valdosta’s rising sophomore struck out nine of the 11 batters he faced over the final three innings, including the first seven and final two with a pair of walks sandwiched in between.
Hall held off any mounting momentum Cairo displayed, and methodically shut down nearly every Syrupmaker batter.
“He could be the real deal,” VHS coach Bart Shuman said. “I was proud to see him get through that little jam in the seventh – it was a good experience for him. All it would’ve taken is one little hit and we got ourselves a ballgame.
Cairo drew first in the opening inning when first baseman Parker Duncan brought home leadoff batter Drew Leverette on a routine grounder.
The Wildcats, who mustered just two hits through the first four innings, responded with a pair of runs in the fifth on the heels of two Cairo errors – one on a bad infield hop and another on a wild pick off.
“If we’re going to have trouble scoring runs, we certainly can’t make mistakes that would lead to runs for them,” Cairo coach Ron Best said. Those two mis-plays extended the inning and got more batters up. You do that against most teams, especially against a quality team like Valdosta, that’s generally going to turn into some runs, and that’s what came back to bite us in that inning.”
Valdosta extended its lead by two runs in the seventh when Dylan Sharper ripped a two-out, two-RBI base hit to center field. Sharper was called out trying to extend the double into a triple.
Cairo looked to have shaken Hall in its final plate appearance during the seventh, leading off with a pair of walks, but were quickly squandered once the Valdosta ace returned to his groove.