Methodical offense lifts Colonials past Devils
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Apr 11, 2013, 14:00
Hopewell senior Drake Scearce (1) hurries back to first base as Colonial Heights senior Carter Cox (14) awaits a pickoff attempt during a Central District game on Tuesday at Shepherd Stadium. The Colonials won 6-1 (photo by David Breidenbach).
COLONIAL HEIGHTS – The sun seemed to be perched atop the grandstands at Shepherd Stadium when Colonial Heights and visiting Hopewell took the field for a Central District baseball game on Tuesday.
As the contest wore on, the foremost rays of daylight retreated slowly across the outfield until the entire playing field was draped in the stadium’s shadow. The Colonials claimed a 6-1 victory with similar gradualness, prevailing comfortably despite being outhit 9-8.
The home team scored one run in each of the first four innings and tacked on two for good measure in the fifth. With the six-run outpouring, the victors surpassed their collective tally of five runs in three games last week.
“I’m pleased with the defense right now and thrilled with the way we swung the bat,” said Colonial Heights coach Brian Holt. “We had eight hits, and Hopewell made three or four above-average plays on balls that could’ve been hits.
Colonial Heights junior Zach Stewart slides safely into home plate on Tuesday (photo by David Breidenbach).
“I’ll take that any day with this lineup.”
The Blue Devils reached base in every inning except the seventh but were ultimately undone by an inability to turn hits into runs. The visitors stranded seven baserunners, and three Hopewell runners touched third base without scoring.
First-year Blue Devils coach Bobby Pershing cited that pitfall as a recurring issue so far this season.
“It’s the same scenario,” Pershing said. “We get good pitching and we play good defense at times, but we might have a breakdown defensively that hurts us. Other teams seem to produce with runners in scoring position, but when we get runners in scoring position we can’t seem to get the big hit.”
The Colonials, by contrast, mustered several big hits. The first came in the bottom half of the opening frame when Matt Hettinger blasted a stand-up triple to the wall in straight-away center field.
The next batter, Mack Krupp, reached with a five-pitch walk, and Hettinger logged the game’s first run immediately thereafter when the Blue Devils failed to convert what would have been an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
The theme of costly miscues persisted in the second inning, which concluded with the Colonials leading 2-0. Colonial Heights junior Matt Young led off with a single that dribbled through a gap and reached right-center field.
Young advanced to second on Seth Markins’ sacrifice bunt and scored when a throwing error allowed Jayson Maitland to reach base safely.
“I don’t think we’re too far away from competing with the better teams in the district,” Pershing said. “We just have to put together a whole game.”
The Blue Devils halved the deficit in the top of the third with a rally that began with lead-off hitter Drake Scearce’s second at-bat of the game. Scearce singled to left, stole second base and scored moments later on Trent Scott’s RBI single.
That duo paced Hopewell at the plate. Scott went 2-for-4 while Scearce finished 2-for-3 and stole two bases before succumbing to an ankle injury in the fifth inning.
Nickolas Meyer plated Krupp with an RBI single that restored the Colonials’ two-run advantage in the third inning, and the home team took a 4-1 lead in the fourth when Zach Stewart scored following another timely single from Matt Falls.
“We have to play a little small ball,” Holt said. “We have to trade an out for a base and try to get one run every inning.”
They got two in the fifth, using RBI singles from Young and Markins to provide the final margin. Freshman right-hander Noah Murdock earned the starting nod for the Colonials and churned out his second complete-game victory in as many starts.
Murdock fanned seven Hopewell batters and walked one, and in doing so Holt said he solidified his standing as the team’s second starter.
“We did just enough,” Holt said. “Defense, timely hitting and a complete game from your starting pitcher — you can’t draw them up any better than that.”
Young led Colonial Heights with a 2-for-3 showing that also included two runs and an RBI. The well-rounded performance gave the Colonials their first district win in three tries this season and left their veteran coach feeling content.
“I’m happy,” Holt said. “And I’m not happy very often.”
Though not as jovial as his coaching counterpart, Pershing remained optimistic after the Blue Devils slipped to 2-6 on the season and 0-3 in district play.
“We put the ball in play and we cut down on our strikeouts,” Pershing said. “Hopefully that part will continue. If we can build on that and improve in other areas, we should be able to turn it around.”
Colonial Heights (3-4 overall) will resume district play with a road game against Dinwiddie on Thursday. Hopewell will travel to Matoaca on the same day.
HHS: 001 000 0 – 1 9 2
CHS: 111 120 X – 6 8 1
Howell, Chambers (5) and Rivera. Murdock and Markins. W: Murdock. L: Howell.
Highlights: Scott (H) 2-3, RBI; Scearce 2-3, 2 SB; Cox (CH) 1-2, RBI; Hettinger (CH) 1-4 3B; Young (CH) 2-3.