Prince George tops Hopewell in arms race
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Mar 22, 2013, 14:33
PRINCE GEORGE – One swing of Cody Casey’s bat.
That was all that separated the Prince George and Hopewell baseball teams at the end of a pitchers’ duel that produced just five total hits and one earned run on Thursday.
Casey, who started on the mound for the Royals, vanquished the visiting Blue Devils with an RBI single in the fourth inning that provided the decisive margin in the Central District opener for both teams.
Prince George’s subsequent 3-1 victory saddled Hopewell senior Zack Rivera with a hard-luck pitching loss despite a two-hit, complete-game performance from the hard-throwing right-hander.
Prince George senior Cody Casey registered 11 strikeouts and allowed three hits in a 3-1 victory over visiting Hopewell on Thursday. Casey, a transfer from Thomas Dale, threw a complete game en route to his second win in as many starts (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
“I think we were very fortunate to get the win,” said Prince George coach Mickey Roberts. “Zack Rivera played his tail off. That kid can pitch, but Cody Casey did a tremendous job, too.”
In addition to providing the game-winning hit, Casey registered 11 strikeouts and conceded just three hits and no earned runs. The senior transfer from Thomas Dale, who seemed to get hotter as the unseasonably chilly evening got colder, struck out the side in the top of the seventh to punctuate a dominant display.
“He pounded the strike zone and threw his off-speed pitches for strikes,” Roberts said. “That was probably the difference – his ability to get his breaking ball in there for a called strike.”
Both teams scored on past balls in the first inning – Drake Scearce for the Blue Devils, Bryce Harrup for the Royals – and the ensuing deadlock persisted until the fourth.
With Tyler Procise on second base and Montae Bradshaw on first, Casey smashed a two-strike single to right-center field.
Hopewell senior Zack Rivera allowed two hits and one earned run in a hard-luck loss to Prince George on Thursday. The game was the Central District opener for both teams (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
Procise scored easily and a wayward throw to third base allowed the fleet-footed Bradshaw to cross home plate.
“It was a high fastball outside,” Casey said of the fourth pitch in his second at-bat. “I just went with it.”
The closely contested nature of the rivalry game left Hopewell coach Bobby Pershing lamenting the fateful frame.
“We had one breakdown in one inning,” Pershing said. “Anytime you open the door for a team as good as Prince George, they usually take advantage of it.”
The two-run cushion was more than enough run support for Casey, who fanned seven of the last nine batters he faced. No Blue Devils player advanced beyond second base after the first inning.
After needing 37 pitches to navigate the first two innings, Casey made it through the end of the sixth without doubling that number. “He really picked up his pace there and he got better as things went along,” Roberts said.
Roberts highlighted his team’s superior defensive showing as a saving grace. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, committed three errors that resulted in two runs. Pershing described his team as equal parts talented and inexperienced, and said he expects that number to diminish as the season progresses.
“I have some players that are not used to varsity baseball right now,” Pershing said. “They’re a little tentative. So as soon as we build up they’re confidence a little bit – because we know they can play – I think we’ll come around.”
Scearce, Will Avery and Jeremiah Rivera accounted for Hopewell’s three hits while Prince George junior Mark King’s infield single preceded the Royals’ fourth-inning rally.
Zack Rivera struck out five, walked three and threw 101 pitches in his first start of the season.
“I thought Zack Rivera was on top of his game today,” Pershing said. “He wanted the baseball. He got a little tired and we talked about him coming out, but he decided that he could stay and finish. I thought he finished strong.”
The result relegated Hopewell to 0-2 and elevated Prince George to 2-0 on the two-week-old campaign. The Royals beat Benedictine in their season opener.
“We just have to keep playing and getting more consistent,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to get these guys some more playing time together, and hopefully we’ll continue to get a lot better as we go along.”