The darkness settling upon Polk County Recreation Complex late Monday couldn’t hide the smile crossing the face of Polk County Middle School baseball coach Jason Flynn.
A season after winning the Blue Ridge Middle School Conference title, Flynn and a squad of nearly new faces returned to the field for the Wolverines’ season opener with Waynesville Middle. The result – a 7-1 loss to the Mountaineers – wasn’t what Flynn would have preferred. But there were plenty of positives to be found.
“We’ve got two players back from last year. We’ve got a lot of youth,” Flynn said. “We definitely showed some really good things today. With some experience, we’re going to get better.”
Polk Middle held its own for three innings against Waynesville before the Mountaineers pushed across five runs in the fourth inning on three hits, two errors and a hit batsman. Waynesville added two runs in the seventh.
Polk County pushed across its lone run in the bottom of the seventh as O’Neal Price singled, Evan Jones drew a walk and Bryson Edwards reached on a shallow single to load the bases. The Mountaineers, though, turned a 6-4-3 double play, which allowed Price to score, then got another ground ball to end the game.
“They battled throughout,” Flynn said. “It could have gotten worse, but the pitchers kept throwing strikes and made them put the ball in play. We stopped the bleeding when we could.”
Edwards had three hits to lead the Wolverines, with Jones, Chan Barber and Price adding base hits as Waynesville’s Will Caldwell and Luke Williamson teamed on a six-hitter. Edwards pitched into the fourth inning for Polk, with Barber throwing three innings and Coble Cameron pitching a scoreless seventh.
Polk Middle remains at home on Thursday, hosting Macon Middle at 4:30 p.m.
“I’m looking forward to a couple of days of practice and playing again on Thursday,” Flynn said. “It’s baseball season. There was nothing better than that first pitch.”