Saints win TCIS baseball crown
Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, May 20, 2009
CHESAPEAKE – With four runs in the last two innings, Nansemond-Suffolk’s baseball team won its first Tidewater Conference of Independent School Tournament championship in six years with a 5-4 win over Cape Henry Wednesday at Greenbrier Christian.
“You have no idea. I’m so ecstatic,” said NSA senior centerfielder, and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Isaac Ballou. Ballou launched a two-run home run in the fifth inning which gave the Saints a 3-2 lead.
The win, which wraps up NSA’s season as, due to constant rainouts two weeks ago, the last two rounds of the conference tournament had to be pushed past the end of the state tournament, is all the more sweet since eight of the 12 Saint players are seniors.
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“We showed our character by getting the big hits and making big defensive plays when we needed to,” said Ballou. “Without a doubt, I’m so excited. You can’t ask for much more than this.”
Wednesday’s championship game took shape on Tuesday at Greenbrier Christian as the Dolphins stunned No. 1 Greenbrier Christian 3-2. Greenbrier Christian won the Virginia Independent School Tournament (Div. 2) last week. NSA routed Hampton Roads 11-1 in the second semifinal game.
NSA (18-7) took the lead in the first with Skylar White’s two-out single into center field driving in lead-off hitter Jim Hassell, who had reached with a single and moved to second with a stolen base.
The Dolphins put together single tallies against NSA hurler Michael Coburn in the second and third frames to take a 2-1 lead.
With two outs and no one on in the Cape Henry third, CH’s third- and fourth-place hitters, Blake Whitehead and Michael Kroll, drove back-to-back doubles to the fence in left field to give Cape Henry the lead.
NSA regained the lead in the fifth. Codi Oliver singled to start the inning. Ballou, who has signed a scholarship offer to play baseball and football at Marshall next year, put NSA in front with a towering drive well over the right-center field fence. The homer was Ballou’s third of the season.
After the third straight scoreless frame by Coburn, the Saints added two more runs in the sixth.
Starting again with Oliver, but this time with two outs already, Oliver was hit by a pitch and Ballou was walked on four pitches.
White followed with hit into right-center field to bring in Oliver and move Ballou around to third.
Before the first pitch of the next at-bat, White broke off first and paused about two-thirds of the way to second base. White drew a rundown and while Cape Henry tried getting White, Ballou sprinted home and scored just before Cape Henry got a tag on White for the third out. White’s one official RBI and one unofficial RBI made it 5-2 NSA.
White missed the semifinal game as he attended the Kevin Blanchard Scholarship ceremony at Nansemond-Suffolk Tuesday evening. White, a senior, won the scholarship as a junior and was presenting this year’s award to an underclassman.
“We’ve been practicing for it all season,” said White about the rundown, which was a signal from head coach and third-base coach Michael Curry.
“In one game we tried it three times and it didn’t work all three times. It was just one of those things we had to call it at the right time,” said White. Calling it with the speedy Ballou on third certainly helped make it the right time.
“We needed that run and it proved to be big in this game,” said White.
That’s because Cape Henry rallied in its last half-inning. The Dolphins plated two runs and had the tying run on third base as on John Becker’s two-out, one-RBI single, NSA’s relay from the outfield went wildly into the Saint dugout, allowing Becker to advance from first to third.
Coburn got the final out when freshman shortstop Anthony Waldner made a diving catch on a sinking liner which looked destined for left field and a tying single.
Mike Bradshaw was 3 for 3 with three singles for the Saints. Oliver and Ballou scored two runs each. White was 2 for 4 with two RBI. Coburn (6-2) allowed eight hits in the complete game and had four strikeouts.
Kroll pitched the first 4.1 innings for the Dolphins, and was relieved two batters after Ballou’s homer in the fifth. Tyler Ballard pitched the last 1.2 innings.
“It was another good performance from Mike (Coburn),” said Curry, “he located everything well and kept them off-balance.”
“This is really sweet for these seniors. It’s a big deal for them to close out their last season this way,” said Curry.