Hopewell Swims By Wave
By Blake Belden, staff writer
Apr 23, 2014, 17:02
Travis Hogan scored the game-winning run for Hopewell
HOPEWELL — For the Hopewell Blue Devils varsity baseball squad, the season has proven difficult for producing efficient hits in a timely manner, and going into their matchup against Petersburg on Tuesday, the Blue Devils were in a losing slump that seemed to ride on their shoulders.
Hopewell (4-6) needed a win in a big way to repower a sense of team energy and confidence, a win which seemed distant as they entered the bottom of the seventh inning down by two runs and had exhibited a general lack of successful hits throughout the game.
Despite what the odds may have indicated, Hopewell retaliated after a five inning scoring drought with a strongly executed series of at bats to take down the Crimson Wave in a 5-4 victory on Tuesday night.
With the pressure of the game's outcome weighing on their backs, both Andy Howell and Devonte Yarborough, who were in line to start the final inning for the Blue Devils, had gone 0-2 from the plate in the previous innings.
But with the game in a desperate position for Hopewell, Howell ground his feet in the dirt and swung firmly to start the comeback inning off with a deep double to left field, a surefire confidence igniter for the home team with a disadvantage.
"Andy has been making contact lately, but he's been struggling to get hits so that was a big hit for us to start the inning," head coach Bobby Pershing said. "If they got an out to start that inning, things don't look too good for us."
With Howell on second base, Yarborough, who had been brought up from the JV squad, earned a single off a well executed bunt that also pushed Howell to third.
"I told him if we get two base runners on, we're going to win the game," Pershing said.
Pershing's words began to ring true when Petersburg followed up by pitching two consecutive walks, the second of which pushed designated runner Jermaine Lee home to bump the score to 3-4, his second run of the night.
With bases loaded again, Trent Scott hit a sacrifice fly ball to send Yarborough home, tying the game with one out in the final inning.
As Roman Acord stepped up to bat, Travis Hogan stared down home plate hungry for any opportunity to use his speed and grab a game-winning run.
When losing pitcher Stephen McCoy struck Acord in the thigh with a fastball, Hogan keenly saw the failed pick-up by the catcher as his chance to attack, a swift sprint down the dirt track that ended the game and forced a resounding cheer through the Blue Devils dugout.
"That passed ball, there was no stopping [Hogan]. He was going no matter what," Pershing said.
Although it wasn't the prettiest win for the Blue Devils, Pershing said it was nice to see players perform efficiently in the face of pressure and win a game off of hustle and hard work.
Compared to the rest of the game where Hopewell only earned two runs off of seven batters on base, they scored three runs, put five batters on base with two outs to spare in the seventh inning alone.
Trent Scott struck out 10 Crimson Wave hitters during his start.
Hopewell stepped up their pitching efforts following Petersburg's fourth and final run in the fifth inning, a collaborative shut down from both Trent Scott and winning pitcher Will Avery. Between the fifth and sixth innings, Scott threw four consecutive strikeouts (of his total 10 strikeouts in the game), and Avery came in at the top of the seventh to close up shop.
Avery also had two RBIs and went 2-3 from the plate in the win.
Despite the win, the Blue Devils were outhit and conceded a slew of bases to the Crimson Wave, with three errors not helping their cause.
"I give Petersburg a lot of credit. They played well. They're a much improved team, and they have good pitching. They put the ball in play," Pershing said.
Prior to the fifth inning, Scott found himself in three bases loaded positions, and both pitchers walked a combined five Petersburg batters.
"We just need to eliminate the base on balls, make teams hit the ball to earn their runs. We don't need to give them a couple of base runners to start an inning," Pershing said.