Saints sweep state champs

Published 10:07pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy dealt back-to-back defeats to last year’s state champion baseball team in a visit to Suffolk on Saturday.

Atlantic Shores Christian School fell 9-3 in the first half of the doubleheader and then 12-8 in the back half as the Saints showed impressive development.

“It was fantastic,” NSA head coach David Mitchell said, including Friday’s 12-1 win over 2013 VISAA Division III state champion Tidewater Academy in his summary of the weekend. “In two days, three games against two top opponents, two very well respected programs, it was fun just to play them, but even more exciting to come out on top in all three of those games.”

When Nansemond-Suffolk last played Atlantic Shores, it was during the quarterfinal round of the 2013 state playoffs and the No. 8-seeded Saints fell just short of the No. 1 Seahawks in an offensive slugfest — 17-16.

Mitchell acknowledged that the Seahawks were senior-laden and had “Division I college commitments on that team last year, but the team they brought over this past Saturday was still a very good team. I still think they are a top eight team in the state,” he said on Tuesday.

In game one on Saturday, NSA senior Jeremy Cobb was the winning pitcher, scattering five hits in four innings with no walks and only three runs allowed to go 1-0 this year.

“Jeremy threw probably his best game since he’s been a part of the varsity program at Nansemond-Suffolk,” Mitchell said.

Sophomore Cole Williams pitched the other three innings and allowed zero runs.

Senior Jake Grady went 1-for-3 and had three stolen bases and two runs scored. Senior Ben Wilson went 1-for-4 with two runs batted in.

In game two, the Saints’ senior No. 1 pitcher Greg Beale improved to 2-0 on the season after pitching four solid innings, allowing only three hits and one run.

“He was phenomenal through four innings,” Mitchell said, and the Saints were up 12-1 when he came out.

But the Seahawks enjoyed a big fifth inning, scoring six runs as the home team struggled on the mound. NSA sophomore Hunter Foster got the Saints out of a no-outs, bases-loaded jam.

“Hunter’s a sinker ball pitcher, very similar to Taylor Edens who’s now at (Virginia Military Institute), and Hunter came in and was able to get a couple ground balls that were able to get us out of that inning.”

Cole Williams got the save pitching the sixth and seventh.

Beale was instrumental offensively, as well, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Junior Alberto Smith went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, junior Toby Buchanan went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Grady went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and sophomore Sam Neal recorded two RBIs.

Mitchell said the game began to resemble the 2013 state playoff encounter as both teams piled on the hits, garnering 10 apiece.

Between Friday and Saturday, the wins NSA achieved were ones that Mitchell said it had not been able to get in recent years, showing that the Saints’ baseball program has progressed.

Nansemond-Suffolk (4-1, 0-0) saw its road game on Tuesday at Portsmouth Christian School canceled due to weather, but is set to return to action on Thursday at Isle of Wight Academy.

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