Lakeland goes 4 for 4 in Suffolk

Published 10:06 pm Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lakeland’s baseball team completed a season sweep over its two Suffolk rivals on Saturday afternoon with a 4-3 win against visiting King’s Fork.

Senior Justin Hike, in only his second appearance on the mound of the season, fired a complete game to lead the Cavaliers. Hike allowed six hits and three walks while striking out six.

After Hike worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the King’s Fork first, the Cavaliers got on the board with a pair of runs in their half of the inning.

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David Waterfield walked with one out and Jeremy Hagwood followed by belting a triple off the fence in right-center field. Hagwood came in to score on a single into right field by James Gatling.

King’s Fork’s Joey Aranda pitched the first inning. Travis Cherry relieved Aranda to start the second inning and went the rest of the way.

Cherry held the Cavs in check through the next four innings. Cherry allowed singles in the second and fourth innings, but both were wiped out with Bulldog double plays. In the second, Nick Bowman snared a dipping line drive at his shoelaces and tossed to first for a double play. In the Lakeland fourth, the Bulldogs went around the horn, from Matt Hommell at third, to Bowman, to George Riddick at first, to end the inning.

With Cherry holding Lakeland, King’s Fork put together a run in the third and a run in the fourth, both times without the need of a hit. Sacrifice flies by Aranda and Bowman brought the runs in.

The Bulldogs continued getting chances to score. In the fifth, Aranda singled with one out and stole his way around, reaching third with two down and Riddick at the plate. Hike struck out Riddick to end the threat.

In the KF sixth, Michael Murray led off with a single. A sacrifice bunt and a fielder’s choice for an out put Murray on third with two outs. Hike got Tanner Holmes to hit a grounder back to the mound, which Hike took care of to retire the side.

After four shutout frames by Cherry, Lakeland broke through in the bottom of the sixth, doing so with the same three hitters who put together Lakeland’s first two runs.

Waterfield doubled into shallow left field, hustling around the base paths and going into second with a head-first dive. The Bulldog throw to second skipped away to the fence beyond first base, allowing Waterfield to get up and get to third with no outs.

Hagwood followed with a slicing hit down the right field line for an RBI and his second triple of the game. Gatling drove in Hagwood with an infield hit deep into the hole at shortstop.

The extra run proved vital as the Bulldogs rallied in the seventh. With two outs and no one on, Aranda doubled down the left field line and Keith Jones sent an RBI single into left to make it 4-3.

Hike got the last out, getting Riddick on a hard one-hopper back to the mound.

“Justin had pitched before,” said Lakeland head coach Bruce Hagwood, “but he had some arm problems early on in the season, so we held him back until his arm was strong again.”

With a smile about his Cavaliers winning the city title, Hagwood said, “We just all get along well. We have a good relationship with the other two schools (King’s Fork and Nansemond River). We all pull for each other except when we play versus each other.”

For the Cavaliers, Hagwood and Gatling were both 2 for 3 with two RBI.

Cherry allowed five hits and a walk in his five innings on the mound. Aranda led KF’s offense, going 3 for 3 with two doubles and run and an RBI. Adding in Friday night’s game at Nansemond River, Aranda is 7 for his last 7 with four runs and four RBI.

King’s Fork (3-12, 2-11) travels to Grassfield on Monday, then hosts Grassfield on Tuesday.

Lakeland (8-8, 7-7) is still in the picture for a top-four finish in the Southeastern District, which would give the Cavs a berth into the district tournament.

“We’ve got to win out and have some help,” said Bruce Hagwood.

“We’re very capable of doing it, though we have to play our best ball every game from here on out.”

The Cavaliers have four games remaining, starting Tuesday at Great Bridge.