SCA wins conference tourneyPublished 11:32pm Thursday, May 9, 2013
Many might have thought that with a roster including only five upperclassmen and lacking a recently graduated Major League Baseball draftee might translate into a rebuilding season, but the Suffolk Christian Academy baseball team did not. The Knights returned to the Seven Cities Athletic Conference tournament championship game that they lost last year and played Oaktree Academy, which they had lost to twice this year, and brought home a 10-4 victory.
The conference tournament championship win was Suffolk Christian’s third out of the last four years.
SCA head coach Orel Schleeper described what it felt like to succeed in the face of this year’s circumstances.
“It’s very gratifying,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling, because we’ve worked so hard. We worked hard to get this point with this team because we were young and indecisive. They believed in what the coaches were doing, they believed in each other out there on the field, and you couldn’t ask for a better team to come together at the right time, and we did.”
The Knights faced the Grizzlies twice earlier this year and lost both times, 17-6 and 21-13, respectively. Schleeper cited what made the difference on Thursday.
“They hadn’t faced our best pitcher,” he said. “They hadn’t faced Noah (Nickert). They just hadn’t faced Noah, and it was a totally different look for them.”
“He was key,” Schleeper continued. “They couldn’t touch him. He got us through the five innings. We got the runs to support him, and I had to do a little finagling towards the end to get those last three outs, but we got them.”
Nickert allowed one hit and threw seven strikeouts in five and a third innings. He praised the defense, contrasting the game against the last two versus Oaktree.
“We had more than five errors in each of those two losses, and the defense really stepped up and played well today,” he said.
Freshman Shawn Moose, who took the mound in the seventh inning and got the save, said the team’s energy made an impact, as well.
“We were really hyped up today,” he said. “We were ready to play. Us in the dugout, we were just going nuts, even on a walk.”
With the save and his performance against the Beach Breakers in the semifinal game, Moose earned the Most Valuable Player award for the tournament.
“I would say Shawn was lights out,” Schleeper said.
The Grizzlies took an early 2-0 lead after the second inning and held it until the third. After the Knights put a run on the board, their youngest batter came up, eighth-grader Jon Joslin.
“He doesn’t hit real hard, but he hits where nobody’s at,” Schleeper said. “It’s the little dinkers up the middle, or little dinker in the hole, just droop one over the infield, but he’s been doing that the last four, five games.”
Joslin scored a hit with the bases loaded, driving in two runners to give Suffolk Christian the lead it never relinquished. Joslin explained how he was able to be huge contributor on the varsity level at such a young age.
“I just watched my brother, he’s a big role model to me,” Joslin said. “I just try to focus on baseball and keep my head in the game, and just play my game.”
Suffolk Christian’s other hits came from seniors Clint Byrd and Nathan VanDorn and freshman Michael Cornette.
Sophomore Jared Lauver and Moose were named to the 2013 Seven Cities All-Conference team.