By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
While five current Flying Eagles were playing their last regular season home game of their high school career, it was a former Woodrow Wilson star was looking to spoil the evening.
Liberty Raiders skipper J.J. Tabor, in his fourth year at the helm in Glen Daniel, spent his high school years burning up the base paths at Woodrow Wilson.
“It brings back a lot of memories being here, I’ll tell ya’ that,” Tabor said. “Some of the best times of my life were around this field, so it’s always really fun to come back and coach here.”
Friday night probably won’t be one of those lasting memories.
The Flying Eagles defeated his Raiders 3-2 in a close battle, highlighted by a pitchers duel between Liberty’s Seth Prince and Woodrow’s Brandon Chandler.
“We got the win, that’s all we wanted,” Woodrow coach Mark Daniel said. “I thought we played well. The defense played well and Chandler pitched a good game as he usually does.”
While the night may have belonged to the seniors, it was the freshman hurler who set the tone for the Flying Eagles. Chandler struck out seven, while giving up two runs on seven hits.
“He’s pitched well the whole year,” Daniel said. “He’s a 9th grader and he’s always ready to play. Tonight he was hitting the corners, both inside and outside, and had the curveball working. He did a real good job.”
“I just came out there and pitched ’cause the seniors wanted it real bad,” Chandler said. “I was nervous. I didn’t want to let the team down.”
Chandler showed the poise of a veteran, pitching out of a pair of jams with runners in scoring position and no outs.
“I just pitched my game,” Chandler said. “I just pitched and got out of it. I’m thankful.”
While Chandler was thankful, Tabor was frustrated.
“We had opportunities with runners on third and we can’t get the ball on the ground — just do a simple ground ball, to score a run,” Tabor said. “It’s just frustrating when you play a good game defensively, you get a great game out of Seth Prince on the mound and we can’t execute at the plate.”
Prince gave up five hits, allowing three runs and struck out five Fying Eagles.
The costliest of those hits belonged to Woodrow senior Hunter Greco. Greco hit a single to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning, driving in Chris Metrick and fellow senior Andrew Johnson to give Beckley the runs it needed to dispatch the feisty AA squad.
“Hunter got a big hit there,” Daniel said. “That was huge. He stepped up and got a big single.”
“It felt so good, especially since it’s on Senior Night,” Greco said. “That’s the way I would like to go out. It’s perfect. It’s been a blessing to play four years and start here.”
Greco was joined by Johnson, Cole Williams, Dakota Boyer and Daniel Rose as the seniors on the team.
The proud coach had a twinkle in his eye as he talked about them.
“I’ve got five good ones,” Daniel said of his seniors. “Dakota plays second and catches and does a real good job. Andrew is playing for the first time in three years and plays outstanding defense. Daniel Rose has solidified us behind the plate, he blocks the ball well and calls a good game. Cole is our DH, our leadoff hitter, we feed off of his momentum. He’s our emotional leader, and Hunter is one of our better pitchers and having a great year hitting for us.”
As for Greco, he agrees with Tabor.
“I love this place,” he said. “Some of my greatest memories are here. I’m going to miss it when I’m gone.”
The Flying Eagles will travel to Glen Daniel this morning for an 11 a.m. start against Liberty.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
L: 000 200 0 — 2 7 1
WW: 100 020 x — 3 5 0
L: Seth Prince and Jake Lacek, WW: Brandon Chandler and Daniel Rose. WP — Chandler. LP — Prince. Hitting — L: Austin Lyons 2-4 (2B) Joey Lacek 1-3, Matthew Bailey 1-3, Jake Lacek 1-3 (R, SB), Meechie Brown 2-3 (2B, 2 RBI). WW: Hunter Greco 1-3 (2 RBI), Logan Wriston 1-3 (2B, R), Brent Osborne 1-3 (2B, R), Chris Metrick 1-2 (R, SB), Andrew Johnson 1-2 (R).