Early-inning errors plague Pungo Christian

Published 2:28 pm Sunday, March 9, 2014




A week’s worth of unremitting rain finally subsided on Saturday, as the Pungo Christian Raiders took to the Fleming Stadium diamond to take on Avalon High School, a team from Gaithersburg, Md., at the Greenfield Preseason Invitational in Wilson.

Dual-sport senior Cole Austin Woolard toed the rubber for the second time in the young season, and had all three of his pitches working. Woolard located his fastball, kept his changeup down in the zone and hard a hard break on his 10-4 curveball. The Pungo ace went out-for-out against his counterpart, Avalon’s Tommy Sanchez, but six errors in the first two innings plated five runs, proving to be the difference in the 5-0 final score.

“Cole pitched great—all our pitchers pitched great,” said Raiders’ head coach John Scott Cutler. “We just couldn’t catch the ball in the first couple innings, and that killed us. Defensively, we’re best when he’s playing defense and not pitching.”

Pungo cleaned up its defense over the final three innings. Senior first baseman Thomas Mann made an athletic over the shoulder in foul territory in the six inning and Woolard’s defense at shortstop kept his team in the game, but the Raiders failed to capitalize with men on base down the stretch.

“They pitched some good pitchers, and we had a bunch of looking third strikes,” Cutler said. “We can’t have that. It’s one of my pet peeves. We just didn’t hit the ball.”

Sophomore Will Respess took over for Woolard in the fourth, striking out the first batter he faced and forcing weakly-hit ground balls. Mann came on to get the final six outs and held the Black Knights to just one base runner.

Avalon’s Mike Brunvoll, who spent the last two years covering from a torn labrum, took to the mound in the fifth inning for the first time since August 2012, and managed to string together two strikeouts.

“We’re going to work on defense,” Cutler said. “To me, defense wins championships and offense wins games. I’m more concerned about winning championships than winning games.”

With the loss, the Raiders move to 1-2 on the season. Pungo will head back to Belhaven and open up conference play against Ridgecroft on Tuesday.

The Rams finished last season with a 7-8 record and went 5-5 in the NCISAA Tarheel Conference.