SCA baseball returns to title game

Published 10:32pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A year after losing Josh Henderson, who graduated and was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as his talented younger brother Chris, the Suffolk Christian Academy baseball team finds itself in the same place it got to last year — the conference championship.

The No. 3-seeded Knights achieved an 8-5 victory over the Beach Breakers in Tuesday’s semifinal round of the Seven Cities Conference tournament to advance to the title game.

Before Suffolk Christian’s March 19 opener, also against the Breakers, Knights head coach Orel Schleeper cited his expectations for the year: “I’m hoping we’re back into the championship game for our conference again. Absolutely. We may get off to a slow start, I don’t know how we’ll come out of the gate, but I do feel that we should be right there. I expect that anyway.”

On Wednesday, the day after the team met those very expectations, Schleeper said, “We were able to make it. It was very gratifying to win yesterday, the way the boys just played great baseball.”

Just like the season opener, freshman pitcher Shawn Moose was key to defeating the Breakers, pitching for five and a third innings in which he allowed five hits and struck out 12. This was his first game back after a brief layoff due to a rib injury.

Sophomore Jared Lauver pitched the remainder of the game for the save, throwing two strikeouts. Lauver also went 3-for-4 at bat and teamed up with Moose for some important outs when he played catcher.

“We played some small ball, we had some hits, we had great defense, all the way around,” Schleeper said. “We had several strike-them-out, throw-them-outs. Shawn struck them out, and then Jared (would) throw them out, trying to steal — double play. We had two or three of those.”

Moose was productive on the offensive side, as well, going 2-for-3.

Eighth-grader Jon Joslin was clutch, with two timely hits, one of which drove in two runs in the third inning to tie the game up. He had three RBIs.

Like Schleeper expected, the Knights struggled early in the season, but the coaches instilled confidence in their young players and junior pitcher Noah Nickert emerged as a real force on the mound, going 4-3 for the year.

Due to rain, the other semifinal match-up between Oaktree Academy and Gateway Christian School was delayed. It will resolve today at 2 p.m., with Oaktree currently holding an 8-3 advantage. The winner will play SCA at 4 p.m. on the Knights’ home field off of Robs Drive.

Should Oaktree win, Suffolk Christian would be facing a team it has lost to twice in high scoring games. The first contest ended up 17-6 and the second one 21-13.

“They’re pretty good, they hit through the lineup,” Schleeper said on Wednesday. “The only difference is, every time we got to play them, the way my pitching rotation rolls around, they never faced Noah. They only faced my two freshmen. Noah’s fresh; we were able to save him and get through these first two games without using him, and they’re going to see him tomorrow.”

SCA advanced out of the first round of the tourney on Monday with a 7-0 victory over the Virginia Beach Friends School. Freshman Michael Cornette pitched a complete game one-hitter with 12 strikeouts.

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