Brinkley bangs out two bases, two runs, one win

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Both Lakeland diamond teams kicked off their spring break with victories over host Deep Creek (DC) on Friday. However, their manners of victory couldn’t have been more different. The softball team rode a two-run double by Ashley Brinkley to a 3-1, nine-inning pitcher’s duel victory, while the boys charged to a seven-run advantage, giving themselves a comfortable cushion when the Hornets made a late charge in Lakeland’s 9-5 win.

It wasn’t that the softball team wasn’t hitting the ball – it was that they weren’t getting any hits. Though only one Lady Cavaliers struck out in the contest, Lakeland managed just six baserunners in the first eight innings, none of which passed second.

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The Lady Hornets, on the other hand, didn’t hit the ball much; Lindsay Kelly struck out 14 and allowed just one walk and four hits. But when DC did make contact, they made use of it, pushing across a run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Lakeland went down in order in the fifth, and Christina Williams and Kaitlin Espinosa grounded out to open the sixth. But Kelly hit a single to right field, stole second, and tied the score on a double by Ashley McCord.

Kelly held the Lady Hornets hitless over the next three innings, but her teammates were unable to generate any runs. That is, until the top of the ninth.

With one out, Tanya Chirico singled to right field. Ashley Schleeper doubled to right, and Kelly went in to pinch-run for her.Rachel Bailor flew out, and Brinkley, who had gone 0-for-2, headed to the plate.

She let a ball go by, swung at a strike, and watched another ball sail over her head. On the fourth pitch, she swung, and glanced at the ball as it headed toward left field.

&uot;I wasn’t paying attention to the ball,&uot; she said. &uot;I wasn’t going to stop running until the coaches told me to.&uot; It dropped over the shortstop’s glove, and Chirico scored easily. As Kelly rounded third, the ball bounced away from the Lady Hornet left field. Kelly charged in, Brinkley pulled up at second, and the Lakeland crowd went berserk.

&uot;I needed that one, because I was in a slump,&uot; Brinkley said. Charged up, Kelly and her defense set the Lady Hornets down in order in the bottom of the inning for the victory.

&uot;My arm’s a little tight,&uot; Kelly said. &uot;I’ll be feeling the soreness tomorrow.&uot;

Over on the baseball field, Robert Hedrick opened the game with a single to left field. Chase Nelson tripled him in and scored on an error for a 2-0 lead. Lee Abernathy doubled to right field, and Andy Owen walked. He attempted to steal second, and got caught in a rundown, allowing Abernathy to up the lead to 3-0.

DC scored in the bottom of the second, but Hedrick walked and stole second in the third inning. Nelson bounced a ground-rule double over the fence to score him, and scored when Bryan Ashburn reached on an error.

After the Hornets pushed over another run in the fifth, Abernathy, Ricky Lainhart and Steve Morean loaded the bases in the sixth. Abernathy scored on an infield single by Daniel Cross, and Hedrick knocked a one-bagger to center to score Lainhart. Nelson followed suit, scoring Morean and Cross for a 9-2 advantage.

Hedrick had struck out eight in the first six innings, but John Phelps cranked one of his pitches over the right field fence for a three-run blast in the bottom of the seventh. But Bucky Buchanan came in and struck out the next batter, and Bryan Bess caught a pair of fly balls in right field to end the game.

&uot;If we keep hitting like we did tonight,&uot; Nelson said, &uot;we’ll be OK. We just need to get hot. We won tonight because everybody hit good.&uot;

While their female counterparts will be resting over the next week, the baseball team goes back to work at 10 a.m. today, battling Wilson in the first round of the Nansemond River Invitational tournament, one of four games they’ll play over the next five days.

The Warriors will head into their host tournament with the momentum of a solid win as well, as Eric Berry blasted a three-run homer and Jeremy Riggs pitched them to a 7-3 win over host Indian River (IR). The Warriors will host Booker T. Washington at 5:30 p.m. tonight.

Nansemond River also beat IR in softball, 9-3. Heather Horton and Ali Mowry each had three hits, and Lindly Theroux struck out eight.