Suffolk squad plays top team tough

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NEWPORT NEWS – A couple weeks ago when Suffolk Post 57 was opening its American Legion baseball season, the post’s head coach, Scott Holmes, said the primary goal of forming the team, made up largely of King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond-Suffolk players, was to challenge itself against tough competition.

Post 57 certainly had such a challenge on Monday night at Menchville High School against Newport News Post 25, a squad with 11 players from a Menchville program which is the newly-crowned Group AAA state champions and could finish as the No. 1-ranked team in the country by USA Today later this week.

A two-run homer by Sam Kush in the fourth and a three-run double by Joey Aranda in the eighth were the key blows in Suffolk’s big innings as Post 57 stepped up to the challenge, but couldn’t prevail, in a 13-9 win for Newport News Post 25.

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Suffolk fell behind 4-0 through three innings and had managed only one hit against Post 25 starting pitcher Brad Forrest.

The fourth inning opened with Forrest hitting Keith Jones with a pitch. Kush put Suffolk on the board in a big way by driving a high fastball over, well over the 340-foot sign in straight-away centerfield at Menchville’s field, the centerfield fence.

Post 25 went to its bullpen two hitters later and a rash of walks allowed Suffolk to keep the inning going and post five runs in all to take a 5-4 lead.

Travis Cherry pitched the first three innings for Suffolk. Cherry got out of jams in the first two frames and did excellent to hold Newport News to one run. A two-out, two-RBI single by Teddy Brewer, then Brewer coming in to score on a wild pitch, made up Post 25’s third-inning rally.

Aranda relieved Cherry to start the fourth, but stopping Post 25’s offense proved to be the one part of the game Suffolk couldn’t match.

Newport News’s Matt Armstead belted a pair of homers off Aranda; a solo homer in the fourth to tie the score, then a two-run homer as part of a five-run rally in the bottom of the fifth. Logan Senelis-Jose’ added a solo home run in the fifth as well.

Suffolk had a chance to escape in the fifth with only two Newport News runs scoring. After the Senelis-Jose’ homer, a grounder to Taylor Edens at third base was bobbled for an error. After a Post 25 hit and another run, Armstead’s second homer made it 10-5. Post 25 added another unearned run in the sixth for an 11-5 margin.

Suffolk put David Waterfield on the mound in the seventh and he fared the best of the Suffolk pitchers on the night, but Post 25 still put two across in his two innings.

Trailing 13-5, Post 57 rallied in the top of the eighth. With runners on the corners and two outs, a walk to Waterfield kept the inning going for Aranda, who sent a drive off the fence in right-center field for a three-run double. Cherry followed with his second hit of the game, a single which scored Aranda.

For Suffolk, Aranda was 2 for 4 with four RBI. Waterfield reached base three times on walks in five plate appearances and had a run and an RBI. John Wagner was 2 for 4 with a walk, a run and an RBI in the lead-off spot.

Suffolk (2-3) hosts Warwick Post 255 on Friday at 7 p.m. at King’s Fork High School.

On Sunday evening, in a junior division American Legion game, the Post 88 Nansemond Indians (6-1) won at Post 49 Smithfield 13-3 to go to 2-0 against Post 49 this season. Nansemond hosts East Williamsburg Post 1776 (3-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Nansemond River High.