Warriors need big rally to top rivals

Published 10:33 am Saturday, May 2, 2009

For most of Friday’s baseball contest between King’s Fork and Nansemond River, the visiting Bulldogs were poised to finish a season sweep over Nansemond River, which had won every meeting between the city rivals during the first four seasons of KF’s baseball program.

Trailing 9-6 going to the bottom of the sixth inning, the Warriors stormed in front and thensome with an 11-run inning which included 11 straight Warrior hitters reaching base after the second out in the frame. The huge outburst gave the Warriors a 17-9 win.

A two-run home run by KF’s Joey Aranda, a drive over the right-center field fence, in the top of the sixth gave the Bulldogs a three-run cushion and the Bulldogs had led the whole way after opening the game with four runs in the first inning.

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NR started rolling in the home half of the sixth with a double by D.J. Williams and an RBI triple off the right field fence by Ryan O’Hara.

Those two hits drove Michael Murray, KF’s starting pitcher, from the mound. Murray was solid through the first four innings as KF held a 7-3 lead going to the NR fifth, but he started to tire as the Warriors posted three runs thanks largely to three extra-base hits in the bottom of the fifth.

KF head coach J.B. Varney called on Nick Bowman in relief. Bowman got two straight ground outs, the first of which by Brandon Lowe scored O’Hara to make it 9-8 KF, but the Bulldogs were an out away from holding the lead going to the final inning.

NR’s Jordan Long kept the inning going with a double and the Bulldogs intentionally walked Johnny Pitt, one of NR’s big power hitters, but who was also 0 for 3 on the day to that point. The walk brought up Zack Vann, who had nailed an RBI triple into the right field corner in his last at-bat in NR’s three-run fifth inning.

Vann split the left-center field gap with a liner this time which was good for a two-run, go-ahead double.

Joey Aranda replaced Bowman on the mound, but the Warriors were just starting to get going. Two-RBI hits by Lowe and Long did the most damage. O’Hara and Williams both scored twice in the inning and Long’s hit was his second double of the inning.

O’Hara, who came on in relief to hold KF in the sixth after Aranda’s homer, held the Bulldogs in the seventh to close the game and get the win for the Warriors.

Back at the start of the evening, the Bulldogs jumped on the Warriors for four runs before the home team could record an out.

Singles by Aranda and Keith Jones scored one run each and KF scored unearned runs thanks to a Warrior error and a wild pitch.

A two-run home run by Erickson Keeton, a high fly ball which kept going until it carried over the center field fence, made it 4-3 KF through three innings.

The Bulldogs answered with a rally after they had two outs and no one on in the top of the fourth. Travis Cherry walked and Aranda doubled, setting up Jones in the clean-up spot, who singled to center to score both runners.

Kyle Moore started on the mound for NR, lasting four innings. Travis Johnson gave up two runs in an inning of work, then O’Hara was the only pitcher on either side to completely stop the slugfest.

For the Bulldogs (3-11, 2-10), Aranda finished 4 for 4 at the plate with three RBI and three runs. Jones was 3 for 4 with three RBI. King’s Fork met Lakeland on Saturday. The Bulldogs face Grassfield in Chesapeake on Monday and at home on Tuesday.

Lowe, Keeton, Long and Vann each had three RBI for the Warrior offense. Lowe and Long were each 3 for 3 at the plate. Lowe and Keeton each finished with three runs. NR finished with 11 extra-base hits. Nansemond River (6-10, 5-9) travels to Deep Creek on Tuesday.