Crusaders play two, win two Saturday

Published 8:51 pm Saturday, April 16, 2011

Inside pitch: First Baptist’s Josh Henderson avoids an inside pitch against Norfolk Christian Saturday. Henderson drove in three runs and the Crusaders (8-1) beat the Ambassadors 13-11.

NORFOLK — First Baptist’s baseball squad rallied from an early 8-2 deficit to beat Norfolk Christian 13-11 and complete a 2-1 record during a two-day tournament hosted by Norfolk Christian at Lakewood Park.

The Crusaders (8-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season Friday afternoon in the first game of the invitational, an 8-5 loss to Wake County Home school of Raleigh, N.C.

On Saturday morning, First Baptist cruised to a 22-2 win over Shenandoah Valley Christian of Stephens City.

Email newsletter signup

Early on against the host Ambassadors, perhaps just a bit of overconfidence came into play as the Crusaders knew Norfolk Christian dropped its contest versus Shenandoah Valley on Friday.

Norfolk Christian jumped on a few Crusader mistakes early on and added plenty of sharp hitting for big rallies in each of the first two innings.

The Ambassador first, the top of the first, included runs coming across the plate on a balk, a failed squeeze play — as the Crusaders committed an error on the rundown between third and home — and on a dropped third strike.

Down 8-2 going to the bottom of the third, the Crusaders turned the tables on Norfolk Christian with a mix of Crusader hitting on top of Ambassador errors.

Wes Hughes singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, to third on Ben Joslin’s fly ball and scored on Josh Henderson’s single.

Norfolk Christian could’ve kept the inning to a run or two until three straight grounders resulted in three straight errors, making it an 8-5 Ambassador lead with one out.

Colby Toler, after ripping a long double his first time up, drove a huge fly well over the right-centerfield fence, a 350-foot fence at Lakewood Park, for a tying three-run homer.

The Crusaders weren’t done hitting there. Travis Quigley followed with a double. Luke Ognibene knocked in Quigley with a single. Hughes, up again in the inning, drove in Ognibene with a sacrifice fly for an eight-run inning and a 10-8 Crusader lead.

Joslin pitched the second and third frames and left with the lead to get the win. Hughes came on to start the fourth and kept the lead, holding the Ambassadors quiet for three of his four innings, a major turning point in what was a slugfest otherwise.

The Crusaders added two more runs in the fourth. The Ambassadors scored three in the fifth, drawing within 12-11. First Baptist put one insurance run up in the bottom of the fifth.

In a game with 24 runs scored, the final difference still was pitching and defense as Hughes and the Crusaders held Norfolk Christian for the final six outs.

The Ambassadors got a runner to third with two outs in the sixth before Hughes got a strikeout to retire the side.

Norfolk Christian drew back-to-back walks to open the seventh.

The Crusaders got an infield pop up for one out. Quigley fielded a grounder at third and tossed to Nathan Van Dorn at second for the force out and two down with runners on the corners. Hughes fired another strikeout for the final out.

The Crusaders tallied 13 hits, with Hughes, Toler, Ogniebene, Josh Henderson and Quigley getting two each. Henderson drove in three runs to go along with Toler’s three-run homer.

First Baptist improves to 3-0 this season against Tidewater Conference opponents. The Crusaders hit the road again on Monday, this time down to Canton, N.C. to Bethel Christian Academy.