Cavaliers win with eight

Published 2:55 pm Monday, May 3, 2010

When Lakeland head coach Bruce Hagwood initially had 10 players at varsity baseball practices in February, the Cavaliers knew they had challenges in front of them.

None of the Cavs thought it would come to what happened Friday evening at city rival King’s Fork.

Lakeland played the last four innings with eight players, including a first baseman, Brandon Snook, playing with a broken right thumb. Lakeland (3-11, 2-10) outscored King’s Fork (3-11, 3-9) 6-3 in the last four innings to win 8-6.

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With starting center fielder Nate Meeks on crutches with an ankle injury, Lakeland was down to nine to start the game.

Snook broke his thumb in Lakeland’s 6-3 loss Tuesday against Grassfield.

“He’s our only senior. He refused to come out and the doctor okayed him,” Hagwood said. “He just does whatever it takes and he’s a tremendous player.”

The two rivals went with their top pitchers, Nick Bowman for KF and David Waterfield for Lakeland.

The Bulldogs jumped on Lakeland with a three-run rally in the second inning. With one out, Travis Cherry scored from third and Brian Morrison reached first on a strikeout and wild pitch.

Michael Byrd brought in an RBI with a grounder and Noah Johnson made it 3-1 with an RBI single into center.

Bowman was mostly in control over the Lakeland offense through the first four innings.

In the Lakeland fourth, a play at third base resulted in KF’s Tyler Carpenter and Lakeland’s Trey Wright colliding at the bag.

Wright jammed his ankle partly on Carpenter and partly on the base. Carpenter was cleated across the top of his foot, but was able to stay in the game. Wright couldn’t continue.

After a delay while the umpires decided how, or if, the game could continue with the Cavaliers down to eight players, the inning continued. Colby Bennett hit an RBI double and KF led 3-2 going to the bottom of the fourth.

Before the next half-inning though, a 15-minute delay included the umpires making phone calls, again making sure it was legal for Lakeland to continue.

When play resumed, Lakeland played with two outfielders, freshman Jared Bass in left-center field and sophomore Timothy Quinata in right-center.

King’s Fork added to its lead in the fourth, with Morrison sending a fly to deep, but normally playable, center field. Instead, it went for an RBI triple.

With eight players, each time the empty spot in Lakeland’s order came up, it was an automatic out. Factor in Snook, who was only able to bunt or take a one-handed, left-handed swing, for nearly an automatic out.

“It would’ve been very easy just to give up,” Hagwood said. “Instead, everyone focused and knew what we had to do.”

The Cavaliers strung together five singles in the fifth inning. Tyler Strange’s single scored Lance Smith and Quinata with one out.

Following the empty spot in the Lakeland order, Randall Jones singled and Colby Bennett singled with a liner to left scoring Strange to give Lakeland a 5-4 lead.

With two outs and no one on in the Lakeland sixth, Smith, Quinata and Waterfield hit singles, with Waterfield’s hit scoring Smith and Quinata to make it 7-4.

The Cavs started the seventh with an automatic out. Jones followed with a grounder to shortstop. Jones initially reached first on a Bulldog error, but Jones rounded the base toward second and was caught in a rundown as KF first baseman George Riddick jumped to snag the overthrow. Jones and a KF fielder ran into each other in the baseline, leading to an interference call giving Jones second base.

Two batters later, Bennett singled to center to plate Jones and make it 8-4 Cavs.

Waterfield retired seven straight KF hitters, from the fifth inning to two outs and no one on in the bottom of the seventh.

The Bulldogs made the last out tough. Aaron Aranda singled and Tyler Carpenter grounded a hit into center field for a double.

Bowman hit a drive deep down the right field line, a hit a normally-positioned right fielder likely wouldn’t have chased down, for a two-RBI double.

Travis Cherry reached base on a grounder to shortstop. Jones fielded the grounder, but then looked at Bowman going to third and made a late throw to first. Cherry, as the tying run, stole second, but Waterfield struck out Riddick to end the game.

“This was the best teamwork I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Hagwood said.

“We have a couple JV players we can pull up and we should be getting Meeks back next week,” Hagwood said.

The Cavs and Bulldogs split for the season. KF won 9-4 at Lakeland in March. Lakeland hosts Western Branch Tuesday while King’s Fork hosts Grassfield.