LISBON  – Lisbon’s Noah Austin had exhausted his pitch count and was close

Hall Dale’s Josh Nadeau (2) sprints for first base, arriving after Lisbon’s Jack Tibbets, right, touches the base during Friday’s MVC high school clash at Lisbon. The Greyhounds pulled out a 3-2 win to finish the regular season with a perfect 16-0 record. (Andree Kehn / Sun Journal)

to exhausting his right arm when he reached a 1-2 count against Hall-Dale’s Patrick Rush with the tying run standing at second base in the top of the sixth inning of Friday’s Mountain Valley Conference high school baseball showdown.

Austin still had enough left to paint one last fastball over the outside corner for a called strike three to end the Bulldogs’ rally. 

Lucas Francis took over in relief for a 1-2-3 seventh, and Lisbon ended its baseball regular season with a 3-2 win and a perfect 16-0 record.

“That’s the first time I’ve hit my 110 (pitch) limit,” said Austin, a senior. “In all of my years of pitching, I never throw that much. I think my max was, like, 82. They were a lot more selective, and my stuff was working pretty good today, so I was getting a lot of swings and misses.”

The victory was the second of the season over the Bulldogs for the Greyhounds, who will enter the Class C South tournament this week as the top seed. 

Hall-Dale finished its season at 12-4 and will enter the tournament as the third seed.

“It’s incredible,” Austin said of Lisbon’s 16-0 mark. “We’ve played well all season. I had the most mistakes out of everybody in this game. Everybody played pretty clean. The bats have been going. We’re doing good.”

“I think the kids really wanted that undefeated season,” Lisbon coach Randy Ridley said. “I think it’s fairly important to have that, because it gives them a lot of confidence, especially against a good team and in a very close game, which it was. And it showed them they can play tight games against good teams and still come out on top.”

Austin allowed four hits, two walks, hit a batter and had a pair of balks while striking out seven in six innings to pick up his third win of the season. At the plate, he went 3-for-3 with a double and run scored and knocked in what turned out to be the game-winning run with a single in the second inning.

Austin didn’t allow a hit over the first 4 2/3 innings but did strand a pair of Bulldogs in the first, one in the third and one in the fifth due to two walks, the hit batter and his own fielding error.

“I like to start the hitter out with a strike, no matter what type of pitch I throw,” Austin said. “I throw a lot of curve balls, so to start out with a first strike is very important so that I can throw pitches that are close to the strike zone and get them behind, then I can throw a pitch chest-high that looks pretty good and get some of them to chase it.

“I usually don’t strike many batters out. I more pitch to contact.”

Lisbon pitcher Noah Austin fires a ball from the mound during Friday afternoon’s baseball game in Lisbon. (Andree Kehn / Sun Journal)

He rendered Austin Stebbins’ two-out single in the fifth harmless with a fly out to center to end the inning, but got into immediate trouble in the sixth after a leadoff single by Akira Warren and an infield hit by Tim Cookson brought the tying run to the plate with no outs.

After a steal by Cookson put runners at second and third, Austin’s second balk of the game sent Warren home for Hall-Dale’s first run. It also sent Cookson to third, and Alec Byron drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-2.

With two out, Logan Dupont singled and stole second. Approaching the 110-pitch limit, Austin regrouped and struck out Rush to end the threat.

“I threw two off-speed to him that were pretty close (to strikes) that didn’t go my way,” Austin said. “I knew he was looking for off-speed because I was throwing a lot of them all day, so I just tried to get him on that outside corner.”

“He hasn’t thrown a lot all year long,” said Ridley, who picked up career coaching win No. 200 in Thursday’s win over Winthrop. “I think that had a little bit to do with (Austin being fatigued). But Hall-Dale is a great team. There’s a reason why they are the defending state champs and they proved it today. They battled. They fought off pitches. Noah still pitched a great game.”

Austin got the Greyhounds going early against Warren, Hall-Dale’s starter, launching a ground-rule double to left in the first inning that was originally ruled a home run but corrected after umpires agreed the ball went over the fence on a bounce.

Francis (two hits) followed with a double to center to score Austin. After a walk and a ground out moved Francis to third, he scored when Warren uncorked a wild pitch to the backstop.

Lisbon made it 3-0 when Austin ripped a two-out single to deep center to score DJ Douglass, who led off the second inning with a single.

“I saw two curve balls, and I usually don’t swing if it’s a first-pitch curve ball,” Austin said. “Him throwing that, I think he thought he was going to get it by me again, but I knew it was coming. I was sitting on that.”

Warren allowed a single in every inning after that but didn’t yield another run.

“Akira pitched very well. He pitched well enough to win today,” Hall-Dale coach Bob Sinclair said. “I was pleased with the way the kids came back and continued to battle even though they were down by three and made it close at the end. A one-run difference against a quality team like Lisbon is something to build upon going into the playoffs.”

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