Warrior rally falls just shy

Published 9:26 pm Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nansemond River’s baseball team put forth a big effort in rallying from an 8-1 deficit Wednesday against visiting Indian River, but the Braves held on in the last two frames for an 8-6 win.

The middle of NR’s batting order, spots three through seven, rocked a pair of Indian River pitchers for most of the day.

Zack Vann, Kyle Moore, Travis Johnson and Hayden Champigny had two hits each and Ryan O’Hara was 3-for-4 with two doubles.

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In the home side’s last two frames though, the middle of the Warrior order couldn’t come all the way back. Despite O’Hara’s big game at the plate, and despite Champigny driving in three runs in his previous two at-bats, O’Hara and Champigny struck out for the last two outs of the ballgame.

Indian River jumped out to a 6-0 lead off of Warrior starting pitcher Reid Hoffler. Tyler Brown came on in relief with one out in the second inning and kept Indian River’s strong lineup mostly in check.

“T.Y. did a very good job. He’s the one who kept us in the game,” said Nansemond River head coach Mark Stuffel.

NR’s offense nearly broke through in the bottom of the second. A single by Johnson, followed by O’Hara’s first double of the day, started the inning.

Two strikeouts later, the Warriors still had two runners in scoring position and a groundout by D.J. Williams ended the inning.

NR got on the board in the fourth, but wasted a chance to do more. A single by Champigny, a shot by shortstop into left, drove in Johnson and sent O’Hara to third with one out. Indian River held NR from there and increased its lead to 8-1 in the top of the fifth.

Brandon Lowe started NR’s fifth inning with a single, then moving around to third on a wild Brave pickoff throw. Vann plated Lowe with a soft grounder up the middle that turned into an infield single.

There wasn’t much soft about the rest of the NR rally. Moore doubled to deep right field. After Vann scored on a passed ball, Johnson singled into center to score Moore.

O’Hara’s third hit, this time only a single, kept the line moving. After a double steal, Champigny smoked a grounder right down the third-base line for a two-RBI hit, making it 8-6 Indian River.

“To be down 8-1 and battle back, it says a lot about this team, it says a lot about a young team,” Stuffel said.

Brown and the Warriors worked around the first two Brave hitters reaching base in the sixth. Brown got a strikeout, then a line-out double play to Lowe at shortstop ended the inning.

In all, Brown pitched the last 5.2 innings, giving up five hits and two runs.

“It’s hard to be negative. The only bad thing tonight was that we lost. There’s a lot of good to pull from this game. We’ll build on the things we did right tonight,” Stuffel said.

Nansemond River (2-2, 2-2) gets another big district test Friday with a game at Hickory.

During spring break, which is next week at Nansemond River, the Warriors will be heading to Hanahan, S.C. for the 41st Annual Hanahan Invitational Tournament. The Warriors will be one of 32 squads in the tournament with teams ranging from Florida to New York to Illinois coming in for the five days of play.