Warriors roll in 12-2 win

Published 10:41 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It may be too little, too late, but the Nansemond River High baseball team stayed hot in April on Wednesday with a 12-2 rout of visiting Deep Creek in a Southeastern District game.

The Warriors, 3-6 overall and in district play, began the season an uncharacteristic 0-5 but have also beaten Oscar Smith and Great Bridge as their game has come around.

“Early on, the bottom half of our lineup wasn’t hitting,” said Nansemond River coach Mark Stuffel, whose team hosts Western Branch on Friday. “Now, we’ve got 12 guys who are hitting, so if someone’s not getting the job done, it’s easy to put someone else in to keep us going.”

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The Warriors pounded out 11 hits Wednesday in a game halted midway through the bottom half of the fifth inning after the 10-run rule was invoked. Starting freshman pitcher Ryan O’Hara (1-2) earned his first varsity victory, allowing four hits and two earned runs in four innings’ work. Standout senior Erickson Keeton, who entered the game batting .640 with five home runs and 14 RBIs, went 2 for 3 with a double and D.J. Williams had a pair of doubles as the No. 9 hitter.

Nansemond River led 2-0 after two innings and 9-0 after three frames, chasing Hornets starter Corbett Casteen before getting in licks on relievers David Rice and Michael Cole. Deep Creek dropped to 3-6 overall and 3-5 in district play.

Stuffel praised Keeton, who has signed to play at Virginia Military Institute next season, for his leadership during Nansemond River’s rough start. The coach said the pitcher and outfielder has attracted increasing attention from pro scouts and could be selected in the upcoming Major League amateur draft, but that the possibility hasn’t gone to the senior’s head.

“He was a good player going through the motions last season,” Stuffel said. “This year he’s at practice early, he takes extra hitting and when guys get out of line, he puts them back in. He’s been a leader on and off the field and we’ve needed that.”

The Warriors annually host the district’s postseason tournament but didn’t make it last season and face long odds to do so this spring. Still, Stuffel thinks his team isn’t completely out of the playoff hunt.

“We’ve dug ourselves a tremendous hole, but the district this year is such that anyone can beat anyone else,” he said. “We’re definitely going to need help from other teams, but we just have to play the best we can play and see how it shakes out.”