Warriors survive ‘sloppy’ gamePublished 9:10pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013
In a game where neither team’s coach was happy with how his team played, Nansemond River High School swept the regular-season series against visiting Lakeland High School with a 5-4 win on Tuesday evening.
“We pitched the ball well, but we were very bad defensively,” Warriors head coach Mark Stuffel.
He estimated that his team had five errors, but suspected it was more. Cavaliers head coach Mark Pollick had much the same to say.
“Overall, it was a pretty sloppy played game,” Pollick said. “We had five errors.”
He also echoed Stuffel’s thoughts on Nansemond River pitcher, sophomore Robert Fitzwater, along with praise for his own pitcher, sophomore Blake Harris.
“Fitzwater, he pitched a very good game, and Harris pitched a good game,” Pollick said. “Harris only allowed four hits, which is excellent.”
The Warriors held a 5-1 lead going into the sixth inning, when their defensive errors led to three Cavalier runs, which accounted for the close final score.
Fitzwater, who had seven strikeouts through five and one-third innings, was replaced by senior Brandon Savage for the next two innings. Savage threw similarly well.
Neither player was satisfied by the win.
“We should have hit the ball a lot better and made better (defensive plays),” Fitzwater said.
Despite his team’s offensive struggles, Fitzwater went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Savage observed what kind of play from the mound that the Warriors need to handle better in order to improve offensively.
“Slower pitching, definitely, that kind of screws us up,” he said. “We can hit the fast ball, but the slower guys just mess us up.”
Nansemond River struggled with hitting early in the season, then recovered, but Stuffel noted that consistency in all areas of the game has been lacking this year.
“We find new ways to make it tough every game,” he said.
While the Warriors are not used to be 6-6 in the district at this point in the season, their coach alluded to it being a byproduct of losing nine seniors last year and waiting for new players to adapt to the varsity level of play, which takes time.
“If we’re pitching, we’re not hitting, if we’re pitching and hitting, we’re not defending, so we just haven’t gotten it all together yet,” he said. “Hopefully we can stay in a position to where at some point we can get rolling.”
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers continue to search for their first win of the season.
“We just can’t get the monkey off our back for some reason, I don’t know what it is,” Pollick said.
And Lakeland being short two starters on Tuesday did not help matters. Junior center fielder Austin Mills was out sick and junior shortstop Ryan Stalnaker was unable to play for personal reasons.
Nevertheless, Pollick noted some highlights. Junior catcher Tyler Lilley put out two Nansemond River base runners stealing, and senior Michael Cox, one of Lakeland’s reserves, came in to lead the team offensively, going 2-for-4.
“We at least didn’t quit,” Pollick said. “We kept our head ups, kept plugging at it.”
Junior Jefferson Knight and Lilley had the Cavaliers’ other hits on the night.
Nansemond River (8-6, 6-6) visits Deep Creek High School tonight and Lakeland (0-14, 0-13) will next play at home against Indian River High School on Friday.