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

Thomas Dale Falls To Matoaca
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Apr 2, 2014, 18:57

Blake Belden/Hopewell News/ News Patriot
CHESTER The Thomas Dale boys varsity baseball team gave up five runs early in the first inning of their season opener against Matoaca, a quick deficit that stifled any offensive momentum in the Knights' 9-2 loss on Tuesday evening.

"They jumped on us early and it's hard to kind of fight out of that hole, especially that first game, we had a little first game jitters," said Thomas Dale head coach Chris Marshall.

But that's not to say that Thomas Dale didn't have their chances for retaliation, finishing two innings with bases loaded, and several others with men on base, solid preparatory work with a failure to capitalize.

"We left some guys out there and that's why I'm mainly disappointed [with the outcome]. I think we left 11 or 12 guys on. We gave up a ton, so that might not have mattered, but that can change the whole complexion of the game if we can put some runs on the board early," Marshall said.

The third inning showed some scoring promise for the Knights when junior Nathan Eaton grounded a single, stole two bases off of a Matoaca error and then sprinted home for the team's first run when three Warriors failed to catch a centerfield fly ball.

Senior Collin Fleischer, whose centerfield hit allowed Eaton to score, made it to second base off of the play which soon turned into bases loaded for Thomas Dale.

With two outs, Blake Hartman took the bat, but was struck out by Matoaca's winning pitcher Craig Johnson and the inning was over.

Thomas Dale had another chance to grab some runs in the sixth inning, although at this point they were down by six runs, when Taylor Trueheart, Michael Domowicz and Brian Goodwyn had the bases loaded.

But this opportunity was taken away when Phil Van Keuren pitched two consecutive strikeouts to close the inning.

Johnson gave up one run in the three innings he pitched for the Warriors, compared to losing pitcher Tommy Barron who gave up six runs in the five innings he pitched for Thomas Dale.

"I give [Matoaca] credit. They got the job done, and they got timely hits when they needed them, and we didn't," Marshall said.

The job Marshall is speaking of was accomplished through offensive streaks, where eight of Matoaca's nine runs were scored in just two of the seven innings. Six Warriors earned runs in the win, led by Jake Bailey with three runs and an RBI and Rick Spiers with two runs and an RBI.

Eaton scored both runs for the Knights, and both Fleischer and Barron had an RBI in the loss.

Thomas Dale made it to the regional tournament last year, however Marshall has greater expectations this year from a veteran team, and he said that to fulfill this, hits need to come from up and down the batting order, rather than just at the top.

"If we want to be great, and we want to be elite and we want to play with Cosby, James River, etc., we've got to score five or six runs a game. There's nothing else to it," Marshall said.

For the Knights, the season has only just begun, and having missed several weeks of competitive game play due to inclement weather, they're still shaking out the kinks of the early season.

Looking ahead to the Knights' matchup against Hopewell on Thursday, Marshall said that his team needs to harness an energetic, game-winning mentality to start the game, score runs efficiently and walk of the field with the first win of the season.

Thomas Dale (0-1) will travel to Cosby on Friday for a rescheduled game.

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