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Churchland keeps Bulldogs at bay

PORTSMOUTH – King’s Fork’s baseball squad dropped a 10-5 game at Churchland Wednesday.

The young Bulldogs trailed 10-2 with three innings left to play and came close to putting together rallies in each of the last three frames. Instead, the Bulldogs managed only one run each time and left runners on base each time.

On the surface, a couple more big hits might have gotten the job done for the Bulldogs.

KF’s head coach, J.B. Varney, was looking for something more intangible out of his club.

“I’ve seen teams with one guy who talks, who keeps chattering, he gets the team up even when they’re way behind. We don’t have that right now,” Varney said.

It makes sense though when much of the starting nine for the Bulldogs Wednesday was made up of freshmen and sophomores.

KF’s starting pitcher, Nick Bowman, did an outstanding job Friday evening in a district win at Oscar Smith. Bowman held the Tigers to no runs and two hits in 6.2 innings.

Churchland, on the other hand, figured Bowman early and often and put up six runs against him in less than three innings. By the end of the fourth inning, Churchland led 10-2.

The Bulldogs put together promising innings the rest of the way, but the big rally the Bulldogs needed never materialized.

In the fifth, after two quick outs, Tyler Carpenter doubled and stole third. George Riddick was hit by a pitch and Seth Pace walked to load the bases. A wild pitch allowed Carpenter to score, but Daniel Gromkoski’s grounder ended the inning.

In the sixth, Noah Johnson doubled into center field to open the inning. Johnson scored two batters later on a grounder by Travis Cherry. KF had a runner on and one out for their fourth- and fifth-place hitters, but KF couldn’t keep the hitting going.

In the seventh, KF’s first two hitters reached base, but Johnson’s two-out single, bringing in Riddick, was only a consolation run before Churchland finished its win.

Cherry was the best of the three Bulldog pitchers on the day, going 2.2 innings and allowing two hits and no earned runs. Johnson went 3-for-4 at the plate. Carpenter was 2-for-3.

“We left too many ducks on the pond. I brought up a few JV guys to see if they’d make a difference,” said Varney.

One of the JV call-ups was freshman catcher Cedric Henry, who caught the whole game.

Johnson, also a freshman, but who’s been in the varsity starting lineup all season, was one of the few highlights on the Bulldog side.

“He’s a fireball. He’s all hustle and heart. I’d like to have eight more like him,” Varney said.

King’s Fork (2-5, 2-4) will get another chance against Churchland Saturday at 12 p.m. at King’s Fork. Southeastern District play picks up again Tuesday with KF going to Indian River.