Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Colonials' Hitters Freeze Against Indians
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Mar 24, 2014, 19:24

Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
COLONIAL HEIGHTS Over the course of their final scrimmage game and their season-opening contest against New Kent, the Colonials' lineup pounded out hit after hit. In fact, in 14 combined innings of play, a lineup manager Gerald Carsley worried would not awaken early in the season, recorded 33 hits while scoring 30 runs.

However, in a sport in which the very best hitters fail 70 percent of the time, Carsley knew the hitting would falter at some point. Facing a tough Southampton team Monday night, Colonial Heights would find hits to be at a premium. The Indians' pitching staff kept the Colonials to just three hits through the game's first six innings while taking a one-run lead into the bottom of the seventh.

With Drew Mehfoud, Reed Raikes and Seth Markins due up, the entire Colonials' bench stepped up to the top step of the dugout. And while there, they witnessed Mehfoud stare at a strike-three call on the outer half of the plate, Raikes get called out on a close play at first and Markins finish off an 0-for-4 day with a strikeout on a high fastball.

The Markins' strikeout, coming on a 2-2 pitch, told the complete story of the game as the Colonials never once found themselves ahead in the count and could not string together enough hits in a 3-2 loss at Shepherd Stadium.

"I think they threw well and they were able to command the fastball both inside and outside," Carsley said of the Indians' pitching staff. "We took too many pitches. We watched too many and didn't swing at them and as a result, we had some key strikeouts. You can't do that. You have to put the ball in play."

Putting the ball in play was an aspect the Colonials (1-1) did not do enough of against the Indians (1-0).

In fact, Colonial Heights had just seven players reach base over the course of the game and just one baserunner Noah Murdock's liner toward third base which resulted in an error over the course of the final four innings. In truth, the problems arose from the Colonials' patient approach.

Through two games, Colonial Heights' hitters have worked the count and waited out a pitcher before unleashing on a pitch they could square up. Unfortunately, this strategy was rendered problematic against both Tanner Winters and Hunter Peck who stayed ahead all game which put the Colonials in a hole they could not dig out from.

"I thought we didn't really adjust well enough," Matt Young said after an 0-for-3 performance in which he hit two line drives right at fielders. "They had a favorable zone and we didn't change the approach."

However, there were positives for a team which again showed the signs of having a pitching staff which could one of the best in the area.

Following Markins' complete-game effort, Jayson Maitland completed five innings of work while striking out four and surrendering three runs in what was ultimately a losing effort. The deciding run came in the fifth inning which was just two innings after Murdock tied the game on an RBI-double toward left-center.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

Maitland opened the inning off with a walk to the Indians' lead-off hitter before striking out the No. 2 batter on a outside fastball. However, one double, an intentional walk, pop-out and a pinch-hit single by Josh Lowe resulted in the final run being scored off the Colonials' pitching staff.

Zach Stewart then relieved Maitland for both the sixth and seventh innings and allowed just one base-runner in a dominating two-inning spurt in which he struck out five of the seven batters he faced. The two pitchers gave the Colonials a chance to win which is all Carsley wants out of his staff.

"Both of them did a nice job," Carsley said. "Jayson was a little bit off in the beginning and he settled in nicely. Then Zach came in and he threw hard strikes. His velocity was good, but they did more than we did and they won the ball game. That's the bottom line."

But for much of the game it seemed Colonial Heights would find a way to win.

There was never a feeling of doubt in any of the players even as the Indians drove in two runs in the first and Winters had the quintessential shut-down inning in the bottom of the inning to keep momentum. Instead, Matt Falls' key bunt-single gave the Colonials life because once he reached, he promptly stole second and found himself in scoring position.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

Then, unlikely hero Reed Raikes took a 1-1 pitch deep into the gap in left-center for an opposite-field double to drive in the first run of the game for Colonial Heights. The hit awakened the team and showed Carsley this will not be a squad that surrenders when adversity sets in.

"They showed confidence, but we didn't make the corrections and that's the frustrating thing," Carsley said. "I think we knew what we were doing wrong, but we never did anything about it."

However, if the Colonials continue to receive solid pitching, especially with the return of Murdock to the rotation inching ever closer, more wins should follow with the next chance to grab victory coming in a road game at Prince George Thursday evening.

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