Another King’s Fork first
&uot;We’re still going to bite some people this year,&uot; said King’s Fork baseball coach J. B. Varney on Tuesday afternoon prior to his Bulldogs’ first of two ballgames at Nansemond River.
He didn’t predict when.
The answer to that question came Wednesday morning in Fork’s final game of the Nansemond River Spring Break Invitational Tournament against Green Run.
And even Coach Varney could not have predicted the style in which the Bulldogs made school history with their first baseball victory ever; with an 11-1 mercy rule win in five innings.
&uot;The most unusual thing was that we started the subs,&uot; said Varney.
&uot;In our last game, (Tuesday night’s 12-0 loss to Landstown), the starters gave up 10 runs in the first three innings and Landstown only got two when we put the subs in, so this game we did the opposite.&uot;
As if the revamped starting lineup wasn’t enough, the Bulldogs were also missing two players who were in Florida over the break.
&uot;One of them said as sure as anything, he’d have to leave and we’d win a game while he was gone,&uot; Varney said.
And if all this wasn’t enough for the day’s script, KF’s starting pitcher, Matt Sims, left the game after the second inning with an allergic reaction and shortness of breath.
During the last two innings of the game, Rescue Squad personnel treated Sims behind the King’s Fork dugout and Sims was taken away by ambulance shortly after the end of the game.
The Stallions scored one run off Sims in the top of the first, but Sims stopped the threat right there.
It was already a big turning point for Fork, who in their three previous tournament games had given up 19 first-inning runs.
Sims struck out the side in the top of the second and KF tied the game in their half of the inning with C. J. Gregory scoring from first on a double off the leftfield fence by Ryan Shelton.
Henry White took over the pitching duties for KF in the top of the third and showed complete control over the last three innings.
&uot;He’s not flashy,&uot; said Varney, &uot;but he has composure.
He has a low ERA for us.
He’s not going to blow it by anybody but he throws it in there and gets the job done for us.&uot;
The Bulldogs took the lead in the bottom of the third, scoring a run thanks to three Stallion errors.
With one out and a Stallion on first in the fourth, second baseman Baxley Clark snagged a liner and doubled the runner off first to end the inning.
The KF fourth became a perfect classic example of the saying, &uot;hitting is contagious,&uot; as the Bulldogs put together eight consecutive base runners to start the inning and all eight would come around to score.
Gregory started with a double into the left-centerfield gap.
On the next pitch, Chris Savedge singled up the middle, bringing Gregory around and in.
Savedge took second on the throw to the plate, then White followed with a pitcher-deflected infield single.
The next batter, Chris Byrd drove a high fly into right-centerfield that carried over the centerfielder’s head for an RBI double.
Dustin Winters (pinch-running for White) then scored on a passed ball making it 5-1 KF.
Chad Holmes was hit with a pitch and then Byrd made it 6-1 when Jacob Freemeau reached on an error.
Joey Aranda was then plunked, loading the bases, and there were still no outs in the inning.
Clark promptly unloaded the bases with a hot grounder down the leftfield line for a double that scored Holmes, Freemeau and Aranda, making it 9-1.
Clark scored the last of the eight runs on a sacrifice groundout by Gregory.
Needing one run to close out the game in the bottom of the fifth, back-to-back doubles by White and Byrd did the job and clinched the historic victory.
It took a full season in 2005 and 10 losses this spring, but now the Bulldogs have the rest of the Spring Break week to celebrate.
On Tuesday, KF goes to Lakeland (4 p.m.) to get started again in Southeastern District play.