Lakeland beats King’s Fork with gloves, pitching

Published 10:08 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

Lakeland senior Lance Smith dives back to first on a pickoff try, with King’s Fork’s George Riddick making the tag, during Friday evening’s game at Lakeland. Lakeland won 3-1 to take both games over the Bulldogs this season.

Seniors David Waterfield and Travis Cherry pitched excellent games for their schools, Waterfield for Lakeland and Cherry for visiting King’s Fork, Friday evening.

Yet, the pitcher’s duel boiled down to defense supplied by two other Lakeland Cavaliers late in the game and the Cavaliers claimed a 3-1 win and a season sweep over the Bulldogs.

With Lakeland leading 3-0 going into the sixth inning, two Lakeland errors gave the Bulldogs a perfect chance to tie the game or perhaps more.

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Noah Johnson’s single plated Brian Morrison to get KF on the board, still with one out in the frame and with Johnson on as the potential tying run.

KF clean-up batter Danny Gromkoski hit a sinking liner into shallow center only for Lakeland centerfielder Nate Meeks to make a sliding grab. Meeks slid smoothly to his feet and fired home to get Nick Ramos trying to score from third. Lakeland catcher Tyler Strange snared the slightly high throw and put a sweeping tag on the diving Ramos.

The Bulldogs disputed Strange’s tag, to no avail, and the growing KF rally was suddenly done with the Cavs still in good shape.

“Nate’s got a cannon. All three of our outfielders can play. Nothing went over our heads or past us today and they’ve been solid all season long,” said Lakeland head coach Mark Pollick.

Most of the way, the Cavaliers were looking good because Waterfield controlled things on the mound. The Bulldogs didn’t get a hit until two outs into the fifth. Waterfield struck out four while walking one.

“We discussed it before the game. We needed to have no errors and our defense needed to be behind David 100 percent today,” Pollick said.

Cherry was outstanding as well. He worked around a walk and two errors, but no Lakeland hits, in the first three innings.

It took until the fourth inning for Lakeland to notch a hit versus Cherry, but the Cavaliers made the one hit count.

With two Cavs on by walks, Colby Bennett sent a drive to deep center, nearly out for a homer, but good enough for a two-run double.

Lakeland added another run in the fifth. Randall Jones hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Daniel Fenton, who had reached with a walk and moved around on Lance Smith’s single and a wild pitch.

Lakeland (4-10, 3-9) finished with three hits. King’s Fork (3-11, 2-10) managed four hits.

“This win, it feels good for the kids. I know the kids are enjoying it,” Pollick said.

Lakeland beat King’s Fork by the identical score, with Jones getting the complete game win, at KF in March.

The Cavaliers go on to a road game at Western Branch Tuesday while the Bulldogs go to Grassfield Tuesday.