New leader for Bulldog baseball

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2011

King’s Fork’s Danny Gromkoski pitches in a scrimmage against Southampton Wednesday afternoon at King’s Fork. The Bulldogs return most of their varsity roster from last season’s team.

Entering the quickly approaching baseball season with the first coaching change in the seven-year history of King’s Fork’s baseball program, new head coach Mickey Irving and the Bulldogs will be striving to set a new standard for a squad that’s found growing up tough to do in the highly-competitive Southeastern District.

The Bulldogs were in more games than ever last season but finished with a 4-16 record, one win shy of the program’s best season so far.

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The Bulldogs lost only four seniors from last spring’s team, so the returning experience should help.

One way of turning close losses into a better record is what Irving was preaching every chance he had Wednesday during KF’s only home scrimmage before starting the season next week.

Between every half-inning, whether the Bulldogs were coming to the plate or taking the field, the mental aspects of the game was Irving’s main focus.

There was some positive reinforcement of the good, smart plays the Bulldogs executed and some more forceful messages for what needed improvement ahead of a game that will count. But Irving, who played in his high school days at district mate Great Bridge and comes to King’s Fork from Cape Hatteras High School, stayed consistent.

Six Bulldog setbacks came by four or fewer runs last season. In the last few weeks of the campaign, the Bulldogs topped Grassfield 3-2 before the Grizzlies went on to the district tournament. KF also notched a win over Deep Creek, a 6-5 loss to Western Branch and a 7-5 loss to Oscar Smith.

For perhaps the first time in the program’s path, the Bulldogs have three pitchers returning who pitched major innings a season ago in senior Travis Cherry, junior Jonathan Wilson and sophomore Danny Gromkoski.

The biggest bats in the Bulldog order return, too, in Cherry, Gromkoski and first baseman George Riddick. The guys usually at the top of the order gained valuable varsity experience last season as well. Nick Ramos, Seth Pace and Noah Johnson are all still underclassmen. They provided base runners and increased stolen bases, meaning more chances for the Bulldogs to put runs on the board, as last spring moved along.

Cedric Henry saw a lot of action behind the plate last season as a freshman, as did Johnson in center field.

Irving spurred his new squad into lots of offseason work and was pleased with the turnout and effort. In addition to many of the Bulldogs playing American Legion ball during the summer and continuing on a fall ball team, Irving and Sluggers, an indoor batting cage business in downtown Suffolk, hosted workouts a few days a week leading into the official preseason.

Now with only a few more practices left to the preseason, the Bulldogs are getting set to open up against city rival Nansemond River at home on Tuesday.

King’s Fork baseball 2011 schedule

Games start at 5:30 p.m. unless noted, home games are in CAPS


  • Fri. 18 at Deep Creek
  • Tues. 22 LAKELAND
  • Fri. 25 GRASSFIELD
  • Tues. 29 at Western Branch


  • Fri. 1 OSCAR SMITH
  • Tues. 5 INDIAN RIVER
  • Fri. 8 at Great Bridge
  • Tues. 12 at Hickory
  • Thurs. 14 at Nansemond River
  • Wed. 20 WILSON (6 p.m.)
  • Fri. 22 at Wilson (6 p.m.)
  • Tues. 26 DEEP CREEK
  • Fri. 29 at Lakeland


  • Tues. 3 at Grassfield
  • Tues. 10 at Oscar Smith
  • Fri. 13 at Indian River
  • Mon. 16 GREAT BRIDGE
  • Wed. 18 HICKORY