Bulldogs on a hot streak
Published 8:50 pm Saturday, April 25, 2015
Both King’s Fork High School’s and Lakeland High School’s baseball teams are showing progress in the right direction, but the Bulldogs were the clear victors when the cross-city rivals faced off on Friday evening.
The visiting Cavaliers got on the scoreboard first, and they rallied in the seventh inning, but it was not nearly enough to keep King’s Fork from experiencing its first 2-0 week of the 2015 season. The Bulldogs defeated Lakeland 9-4.
“It’s big for us right now,” said King’s Fork coach Pat Stafford of the win.
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He noted the Bulldogs enjoyed a big win on April 1 over Nansemond River High School, ranked among the best teams in the area, and then he said King’s Fork went soft, leading to a losing streak.
“After two rough weeks, we kind of had to go over some things,” Stafford said, noting the players put in some hard work on batting.
After beating the Warriors, the Bulldogs lost their next five games, but in that fifth loss, which came on April 17, something changed. The Bulldogs were taking on host Western Branch High School, the defending Group 6A state champions, and piled up 10 hits against them.
Then on Tuesday, King’s Fork racked up 11 hits in a 10-1 blowout win against host Indian River High School.
The Bulldogs had 11 hits against the Cavaliers on Friday.
“We’re really starting to gain momentum,” Stafford said, noting part of the reason is that his players have become more patient at the plate.
KF sophomore Andrew Riddick had two hits and two runs batted in on Friday, while sophomore Tristen DeGuzman had two hits, including a triple in the fifth inning, and one RBI. Senior Duke Santora and sophomore Blake Sargent had two hits apiece.
The Bulldogs scored twice in the first inning, twice in the third, four times in the fifth and once in the sixth.
Senior Cal Bailey got the win on the mound. He pitched the first three innings and threw five strikeouts. He was relieved by sophomore Ricky McCleod Jr., who pitched the remainder of the game and threw three strikeouts.
Defensively, King’s Fork committed three errors. Stafford said an error late in the seventh inning allowed Lakeland to score two extra runs.
The Cavaliers scored one run in the first inning and three in the seventh as they pursued their first win of the season.
“We didn’t play fully up to our potential, but we’ve improved, we’re starting to show improvement,” Lakeland coach David Devers said.
He said he and his staff are asking a lot of their young players, who need to take on a lot of new responsibilities this season.
As the season progresses into conference play now, he said his team needs to step up.
“I think the kids felt like they left something out on the table tonight,” he said. “I think our best baseball is still yet to come.”
Devers highlighted the play of senior pitcher Blake Harris, and while the defense was not without its mistakes, “we played a little bit better,” he said.
Lakeland (0-10, 0-1) hosts Nansemond River (7-4, 0-1) on Monday. On Tuesday, the Cavaliers host Heritage High School, while King’s Fork (3-8, 2-0) hosts Phoebus High School.