NSA vs. Cape Henry in TCIS final

Published 10:29 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CHESAPEAKE – Nansemond-Suffolk advanced through the semifinals of the long-awaited continuation of the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools baseball tournament with an 11-1, five-inning rout over Hampton Roads.

The big news at Greenbrier Christian was the opening game Tuesday evening as the recently-crowned VIS Division 2 state champs, and top-seeded, Greenbrier Christian was upset 3-2 by No. 4 Cape Henry.

For NSA, Christian Upchurch held the Navigators without a hit through four innings. The Saints’ offense forced the mercy rule with a six-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning, marked by Codi Oliver’s inside-the-park grand slam.

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“It’s sort of bittersweet, because now we don’t get a chance to challenge Greenbrier,” said NSA head coach Michael Curry. NSA lost three games to the Gators this season, including last week in the VIS Tournament semifinals, with the closest margin being a 12-3 GCA win.

“Cape Henry is a very competitive team. They’re very capable and they showed it today,” said Curry, “and either way, we came into this tournament wanting to take pride in achieving something we haven’t done since 2003. That goal remains regardless of who the opponent is.”

That goal is the conference tournament title. NSA, in a game originally scheduled for back on May 7, moved a step closer as its top three hitters in the batting order, Jim Hassell, Oliver and Isaac Ballou accounted for eight of the Saints’ 11 runs.

Hassell and Oliver set the table in the bottom of the first after Upchurch tossed a three-up, three-down HRA first. Hassell and Oliver were still left on with two out before Craig Owens walked to keep the inning going. Upchurch sent a pop-up to short right field, the Navigator first and second basemen couldn’t make the play and two runs scored on the error.

NSA had two outs and no one on when the top of the order came up in the second. With a walk to Hassell, a single by Oliver and a walk to Ballou, the bases were loaded again.

Mike Bradshaw beat out a slow roller to the left side of the infield for one RBI, then Owens shot a single into right field for two RBI and a 5-0 NSA lead.

In the NSA fifth, with one run already in, the bases loaded and no outs, Oliver sent a fly to right-center field. Both Navigator outfielders lost the ball in the lights and broke in toward the infield while the ball dropped about 30 feet from the outfield fence. By the time the ball was chased down, Oliver had circled the bases. Ballou tripled to center field and scored on a balk to bring about the 10-run rule.

NSA and Cape Henry meet Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Greenbrier Christian for the tournament championship.