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Nansemond River sophomore Robert Fitzwater tags out the Western Branch High School runner as he slides into third base on Friday night. The Warriors made a game of it, but ultimately were out-scored 8-7 to end their season in the quarterfinals of the district tournament at Nansemond River High School. (Wil Davis photo)
Nansemond River sophomore Robert Fitzwater tags out the Western Branch High School runner as he slides into third base on Friday night. The Warriors made a game of it, but ultimately were out-scored 8-7 to end their season in the quarterfinals of the district tournament at Nansemond River High School. (Wil Davis photo)

Bruins end NRHS’ baseball season

Published 7:58pm Saturday, May 18, 2013

In a game featuring multiple home runs and 21 hits, Western Branch High School was able to able to take advantage of its opportunities the most and ended the Nansemond River Warriors’ season by an 8-7 score in Friday’s opening round of the Southeastern District tournament at Nansemond River High School.

Nansemond River bled runs early on defense, but produced plenty of offense, even topping the Bruins in homers, 3-1, and in hits.

“We had 11, they had 10,” Warriors head coach Mark Stuffel said. “They just outscored us. They were a well-coached team, and they beat us when they needed to beat us.”

Western Branch put the game’s first point on the board with a home run in the second inning.

“They got a home run and just a few hits and an error and then we ended up giving up five,” Stuffel said.

With two outs in the second, Stuffel put senior Zach Rice on the mound in relief of sophomore Robert Fitzwater.

Rice’s bat gave the Warriors’ their first run in the third inning with a homer, and Stuffel noted who led the comeback for his team.

“It was all seniors last night,” he said.

Nansemond River closed the gap to 7-6 in the sixth inning off the strength of senior Tucker Rhoads’ two-run home run and senior Tyler Jordan’s solo blast.

The Bruins scored one in the sixth, but the Warriors came within one again when junior Trevor Riggs doubled to lead off the seventh, senior Brandon Savage moved him over on a ground ball and sophomore Kieton Rivers sent him home with a sacrifice fly.

But Western Branch ended the rally attempt and the game with a double play.

Nansemond River would have needed to win the district tourney to qualify for regional play, making Friday’s game their last of the 2013 season.

“It was a good year,” Stuffel said. “We really came on at the end and played really well. The last five or six games we were playing good baseball, Western Branch, they just beat us last night.”

Nevertheless, Rhoads was a star for the Warriors, going 2-for-3 with a double, a homer and three RBIs. Savage went 2-for-4, scoring a run, freshman Matt Holt went 2-for-3 and Rice ended up 1-for-2 with his home run.

Nansemond River will have some holes to fill next year as it loses six seniors, including Colin O’Brien and Matt Boone, but Stuffel expressed optimism about his underclassmen.

“The group of sophomores and freshmen that we have, there’s some good ball players in there,” he said. “It’s sad that this year is coming to an end, and already, as usual, looking forward to next year.”

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