King’s Fork wins at Harbor Park

Published 10:59pm Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cherished memories were etched on the minds of King’s Fork High School’s baseball players Wednesday evening when the Bulldogs made the home of the Norfolk Tides their own with a 15-7 victory over Lakeland High School at Harbor Park.

The team was afforded the opportunity to play in venue after having participated in a joint fund-raising venture with the Tides.

King's Fork High School senior Marcus Welch bats against Lakeland High School during a game at Harbor Park on Wednesday evening. Welch had a strong game on the mound to help the Bulldogs gain an important 15-7 win.
King’s Fork High School senior Marcus Welch bats against Lakeland High School during a game at Harbor Park on Wednesday evening. Welch had a strong game on the mound to help the Bulldogs gain an important 15-7 win.

Neither team was there simply to admire the setting, however, and Bulldogs head coach Pat Stafford said he put the game in the context of his team’s goal this season.

“I had told these guys, this game was very, very important as far our chances of making the district playoffs,” he said. “This is a game that we really had to win. Especially coming out here playing at Harbor Park was an excellent opportunity to really get things going for this season.”

Both teams burst out of the gate offensively, and the Cavaliers led 7-4 after the second inning. Then, King’s Fork senior pitcher Marcus Welch and the Bulldog defense clamped down for the remainder of the game.

“Marcus Welch did another great job on the mound today,” Stafford said. “Each and every time he’s come out this season, he’s come out ready to pitch. Today our defense stepped up behind him and made the plays behind him.”

For Welch, the day was made particularly memorable by being at Harbor Park.

“You have no idea,” he said. “This was probably an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life, because I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and to be able to actually play here and win and pitch, unforgettable.”

Senior centerfielder Noah Johnson had a stellar day at the plate, going 5-for-5 with an RBI to go with two stolen bases. He also came up big on defense, closing out the fifth inning with three consecutive put outs.

Senior Jeremy Godwin had two hits and three RBIs, junior Connor McNamara went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, senior Cody Holland was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a stolen base and senior Cedric Henry hit a triple, which produced two RBIs.

“That was his first hit of the season,” Stafford said of Henry. “So, he really stepped up and really came up big right there.”

The Bulldogs showed impressive resiliency in the wake of losing senior third baseman Danny Gromkoski to injury before a recent game against Hickory.

“Right before the game started, he was walking out of the dugout, rolled his ankle, high ankle sprain, shut him down for two weeks,” Stafford said.

Gromkoski had been King’s Fork’s best bat this season, hitting about .450, and was a strong defensive player, as well.

“So, it was a really big blow to the gut when he got knocked out, but we’ve really had some guys step up,” Stafford said.

Sophomore Cal Bailey, who normally plays first, took Gromkoski’s place at third base.

“A little shaky early on, but he made a couple good plays out there,” Stafford said.

Stafford hopes the Bulldogs, who have also started a little shaky this year, have reached a turning point in their season.

King’s Fork (2-7, 1-7) hits the road against Deep Creek High School, and Lakeland (0-9, 0-9) hosts Western Branch High School on Friday.

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