Grizzlies bite Bulldogs

Published 10:41pm Friday, March 15, 2013

Grassfield High School’s baseball team opened the King’s Fork Bulldogs’ season with a visit on Friday night after making quite an impression earlier this week in Suffolk when it opened Nansemond River High School’s season, as well.

King’s Fork senior Cody Holland bats against visiting Grassfield in the bottom of the third inning on Friday. The Bulldogs put up a fight, but ultimately fell 7-4 in their first game of the 2013 season.
King’s Fork senior Cody Holland bats against visiting Grassfield in the bottom of the third inning on Friday. The Bulldogs put up a fight, but ultimately fell 7-4 in their first game of the 2013 season.

Unlike the 13-1 beating they inflicted on the Warriors, the Grizzlies could not pull away to such a safe distance against the Bulldogs, but they still managed a 7-4 win.

King’s Fork showed itself competitive after pouring in a great deal of hard work in the offseason to make a name for itself in the district this season. Their nerves showed, unfortunately, manifesting as errors.

“We were a little jumpy, especially defensively in the infield,” head coach Pat Stafford said. “We made way too many errors, which I think really cost us the ballgame.”

But the loss did not overshadow the efforts of senior right-handed pitcher Marcus Welch. Stafford acknowledged that Welch “left the ball up a few times here and there where (Grassfield) got good hits on it, but a good team — that’s what good hitters are supposed to do. They’re supposed to hit a good pitch.”

“But other than that, for the most part, he threw a complete game and he did his job,” Stafford said. “He went out there and made the guys put the ball in play, gave our defense opportunities to get guys out.”

Senior right-fielder Jeremy Godwin, in particular, along with seniors left-fielder Bryce Jones and centerfielder Noah Johnson provided perfect defense throughout the game.

“Very happy with my outfield,” Welch said. “Couldn’t have asked for anything better. I don’t think they dropped any balls or anything.”

He explained how having confidence in his outfield makes his life easier when he hears that dreaded crack of the bat following one of his pitches.

“When the ball goes up over my head, I’m just like, ‘All right, it’s all good.’ I don’t even worry about it,” he said.

Stafford gave special credit to new assistant coach, David Berman.

“He’s been working with

the guys and seeing tremendous improvements with those guys,” Stafford said of the outfielding corps.

Godwin, who caught all three outs in the fourth inning, said that what enabled him to come up big was “just knowing that we had to come back in this game and making my coach proud and making my team proud. Getting these runs that we had to get to come back in the game, we just couldn’t do it, but we’ve got a long season. We’re going to come back strong.”

Stafford was happy with a contrast he saw in Friday night’s effort from the Bulldogs of the past.

“The thing I liked most about today was that we gave ourselves an opportunity at the plate, we picked away, we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game, as opposed to previous seasons and last year where we would just kind of shut down early on,” he said.

One of the foremost players responsible for the offense that kept King’s Fork in it was junior second baseman Connor McNamara. He went 2-for-4 with a key double.

“I felt a lot of the stuff we did offseason really paid off tonight, a lot of stuff we’ve been working on, like our outfield,” he said. “Our infield could have been better, but we’re going to work on that.”

The Bulldogs (0-1, 0-1) will head to Western Branch High School for a showdown with the Bruins on Monday.

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