Knights Win 7th Straight
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
May 6, 2014, 20:36
Collin Fleischer's three-run home run gave the Knights a lead they would not relinquish in the 3rd inning.
CHESTER — Less than 24 hours after earning a come-from-behind win over James River, Thomas Dale took to their home diamond for a second-consecutive day to face old Central District rival Hopewell looking to continue their winning ways.
But through the game's first two plus innings, the Knights were seemingly in a fog and came out flat. Their defense, one of the strong aspects of the team throughout their recent winning-streak, betrayed them as they committed five errors over the first four innings.
Those errors, coupled by an aggressive game-plan from the Blue Devils which included steal attempts, suicide squeezes and drag-bunts, added up to a 2-1 deficit for the Knights heading into the bottom of the 3rd inning. And that's where the game changed as momentum shifted from the upstart Blue Devils to the favored Knights as Cory Allgood's single — the Knights' first hit of the game — jump-started a rally.
Allgood would steal second base with Nathan Eaton at the plate before the shortstop flew out to short-right field. Then, Brian Goodwyn reached on an infield single before Collin Fleischer smashed a three-run, opposite-field home run to give the Knights a lead they would not relinquish.
Thomas Dale would add on nine more runs over the next two plus innings to capture a 13-3 victory in the bottom of the 6th for their seventh-consecutive win made even more special after overcoming a sluggish start.
"I kind of worried about all day about us coming out flat and we were, but we made the adjustment," Thomas Dale manager Chris Marshall said after the win. "All of these guys are seniors and juniors where in the past we always had some freshman and sophomores playing big roles. These guys have been around the program for several years and know what it takes."
And it specifically takes the little plays which may go unnoticed by some to turn around an entire game.
While the 3rd inning surely stands out because of Fleischer's home run, it was Goodwyn's at-bat before him which gave the Knights' (8-3) starting pitcher a chance to make an impact. Goodwyn had worked the count to 3-1 against Hopewell (4-9) starter Cameron Hill before unleashing on the very next pitch as he hit a screamer to third.
However, instead of jogging to first on what is a routine grounder, Goodwyn busted out of the box as Will Avery looked back the runner on second before firing to first, but by that time it was too late. The Knights' second baseman had already crossed first base and reached on an infield single to keep the inning going for Fleischer.
Brian Goodwyn's hustle to beat out an infield single changed momentum around and set the stage for Fleischer's blast.
It's that play and Fleischer's blast which awakened the Knights' bats and fielders, showing even the little plays can bring about big results.
"Sometimes one play can change a whole inning," Marshall said of Goodwyn's hustle on a 2-for-4 night. "It gave us a chance to get Collin a swing and he crushed it."
Yet, on a night Fleischer went 2-for-4 with 5 RBIs, it was the effort of Tommy Barron at the plate which could help the Knights moving forward.
Last year's All-District pitcher had struggled on the mound until his superb outing at Petersburg, but his hitting had yet to come around. However, Barron came up big when the Knights needed it in the 4th inning to keep a rally moving along.
With the bases loaded and no-one out following two walks and a hit-by-pitch, Barron took a first-pitch strike before uncorking a two-RBI single to short right field. It was the type of slump-busting at-bat which not only raises the confidence of the Knights' junior, but also lengthens an already potent offense.
Barron would later add another RBI in the 5th on a routine grounder to shortstop to help the Knights tack on another run and please both his family and coach.
"Other than him and his parents, I was the happiest guy in the stadium seeing that," Marshall said. "It was good for him because we need him and hopefully this will get his bat going."
All of it added up to a continuing of a streak which has put the Knights among the hottest teams in the region.
During the seven-game winning-streak, the Knights have outscored opponents by a 59-11 margin because of the strong pitching of Fleischer — who threw 4 innings, struck out 6 and surrendered three runs, one earned against Hopewell — Eaton and Barron.
Collin Fleischer continued the Knights' trend of getting good pitching performances with his effort against Hopewell
Additionally, they are receiving production from everywhere in the lineup much like they did against the Blue Devils as Maurice Gothe and Taylor Trueheart both recorded RBIs in the win while Corey Johnston and Blake Hartman's singles down the right and left field lines started a 5th inning rally for the Knights. It even continued on the base-paths as Eaton alone tallied four stolen bases, including one of home in the 4th, as the Knights had eight on the game.
With each solid game put together leading to another win, the team's confidence continues to rise and all they have to do is look to their coach to see what they have accomplished over the last few weeks.
"That's why I have this beard, I can't shave it until we lose," Marshall said while stroking his beard.
With the way the Knights are both hitting and pitching while doing the little things necessary to win, Marshall may not need to buy razors anytime soon as his team continues to rise past each obstacle thrown their way to capture wins at a blistering pace.