Polk Middle tops Bethel Middle in baseball tournament opener

Polk County Middle's Grayson Jones earned the win Monday with 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief.

Polk County Middle’s baseball team turned the tables Monday on Bethel Middle and kept its postseason hopes alive.

After ending their season Thursday with a 5-4 loss at Bethel, Polk Middle returned to Bethel on Monday and handed the Blue Demons a 5-4 setback in the opening game of the Blue Ridge Middle School Conference tournament.

Polk County (6-9) moved on to Wednesday’s semifinals, where the Wolverines will face top-seeded Canton Middle (13-2) in Canton. Polk dropped a narrow 3-1 decision to the Bears in the last meeting.

Trailing by a run, Polk Middle pushed across two runs in the fifth inning Monday to seal the win. Shane Parris reached on an error to open the inning, then moved to second on Grayson Jones’ single. Another error loaded the bases for Kalep Kropp, who singled to drive in Parris with the tying run.

Bethel got one out, but Logan Conner’s infield grounder allowed Nick Capozzi to score with what proved to be the winning run.

Bethel did load the bases in the sixth inning, but Jones, who came on in relief of starter Jonathan Edwards in the fourth inning, got a strikeout to end that threat, then pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to seal the win.

Edwards pitched well in his start, tossing 3 2/3 innings and giving up five hits and three earned runs. Jones pitched 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief, striking out four, to earn the victory.

Polk grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the third, scoring all three runs with two outs. Jones doubled to start the rally, scoring on Capozzi’s single. Capozzi moved to third on the play thanks to an error, then scored on Kropp’s single. Isaac Medford followed with a base hit before Edwards singled to plate Kropp for the 3-0 lead.

Bethel answered with four runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead.

Kropp finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and Jones was 2-for-4 for the Wolverines. Capozzi, Edwards, Medford and Jordan Bishop each had singles for Polk.