Saints baseball inspires in defeat
Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Many spectators were likely expecting a blowout when No. 8-seeded Nansemond-Suffolk Academy took on highly regarded No. 1 Atlantic Shores Christian School in the quarterfinal round of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state playoffs.
The 31-2 Seahawks ultimately prevailed, but the Saints took the Seahawks to the brink in an offensive power struggle that resulted in a 17-16 final score.
“Usually, when you get a score like that, there’s just a ton of errors and walks, but yesterday a lot of runs and a lot of hits, hard hit balls, and it’s very rare,” NSA head coach David Mitchell said. “In my years of playing and coaching, I’ve never seen a game quite like that, especially in a state tournament-type game.”
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The game started out close and low-scoring with the Seahawks leading 3-2 through three innings of small ball. Then, in the fourth, Atlantic Shores exploded for seven runs, including a grand slam from its No. 1 pitcher, Devin Hemmerich.
“It was awesome to see our guys respond,” Mitchell said. “When a No. 1 team has that big bottom of the fourth inning and goes up by eight runs, you never know how your team is going to respond, and that top of the fifth inning we came back.”
The Saints scored seven runs, including a grand slam from junior Jake Grady.
With a 10-10 tie entering the bottom of the fifth, momentum went back and forth between teams. The Saints even took a 15-12 lead in the sixth inning when sophomore Toby Buchanan fired off a three-run home run.
NSA trailed at the top of the seventh, but showed life again when it loaded the bases with no outs. Ultimately, the Seahawks’ No. 2 pitcher, West Virginia commit Jordan Sergent, struck out three straight batters to end the game.
Atlantic Shores went through most of its bullpen as Sergent was the fifth pitcher to face the Saints.
Mitchell estimated that there was a crowd of 800 to 900 people in attendance. After the game, the Seahawks’ supporters afforded the Saints a great honor.
“Their fans gave our team a standing ovation,” Mitchell said.
The Saints out-hit the Seahawks, 17-16.
Grady finished with a 3-for-6 day, producing seven RBIs while Buchanan also went 3-for-6 with four RBIs.
Senior Tripp Kretz went 3-for-5, and freshmen Sam Neal and Cole Williams each had three hits apiece.
The Saints finished 9-10 overall and 5-5 in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools.