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Crusaders get going to beat Patriots

PORTSMOUTH – First Baptist’s baseball squad won for the second time this season Thursday, knocking off host Portsmouth Christian 6-3 in the first game of a three-team tournament, the Charles Sealey Invitational, at Wilson Little League.

The Crusaders (2-3) didn’t get many chances to push runs across. In fact, for the first three innings, the Patriots held First Baptist hitless.

After the Patriots scored a run in the home half of the third, the Crusaders woke up in a big way to turn the game around.

The top of First Baptist’s order was ready its second time around. Leadoff hitter Blake Farrenkopf walked and stole second and Ben Joslin followed with a single, moving Farrenkopf over to third.

A wild pickoff throw to first allowed Farrenkopf to score and suddenly the Crusader offense had all sorts of momentum.

Josh Henderson singled, sending a hard grounder into center field, to plate Joslin. Henderson stole second and third without a close play at either bag. Clean-up hitter Trey Cochran doubled, hitting a drive literally off of third base and down the left field line, making it 3-1 First Baptist.

The Crusaders, with Joslin as the starting pitcher, worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the Patriot fourth. The key play was a liner snared by second baseman Noah Fagan for a double play as Fagan caught the Patriot runner too far off first.

First Baptist kept going in the top of the fifth, putting two runners in scoring position with one out.

Joslin flew out to short left for the second out and the Patriots elected to intentionally walk Henderson with first base open.

In his first at-bat of the game, Zach Repko made the Patriots pay for pitching around Henderson. Repko lined the first pitch into the left-center field gap. All three Crusader base runners raced around to score on Repko’s double, making it 6-1 Crusaders.

Portsmouth Christian still had its chances in the last three innings. Reliever Colby Toler worked his way through the last two innings to save Joslin’s win, but it wasn’t easy.

In the Patriot sixth, a Crusader error and a walk helped PC load the bases with no outs. Toler struck out the ninth-place Patriot hitter. Third baseman Wes Hughes made a diving stop and strong throw to first for the second out as one Patriot run came in.

Hughes converted a more routine grounder for the third out, keeping First Baptist’s lead safe.

In the Patriot seventh, Toler allowed a single and two more walks, but again he worked out of the jam.

Joslin pitched 5.0 innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four.

The win makes the Crusaders 2-1 against Metro Conference schools this season. First Baptist beat Alliance and lost against Isle of Wight.

First Baptist played Hampton Roads Academy later Thursday afternoon in what was a three-team round robin format for the tournament.