Lawrence posts nine runs in final three innings to beat Terra Ceia
Published 7:51 pm Monday, March 16, 2015
All it takes is one lethargic class of freshmen, an unmotivated group of seniors or maybe just a slumping superstar to turn a once dominant team into a sub-.500 sample of mediocrity. Every sport at every high school goes through its fair share of ups and downs over the course of a decade. That is, except for Lawrence baseball.
From 2008-2013, the Warriors went on to win six-consecutive NCISAA 1-A state championships after three-straight title appearances without a win in ’05, ’06 and ’07. The program, under the direction of skipper Robert Kravitz, has been a virtual baseball factory, pumping out a seemingly endless amount of quality campaigns and college-worthy talent.
Last season in a late-March matchup, Terra Ceia took Lawrence to extras, only to fall in the ninth inning — a hit batter and an error costing the Knights what potentially could have been an upset of colossal proportions.
Terra Ceia shared a diamond with Lawrence for the first time in 2015 on Monday afternoon and again, it was a pair of errors, a lack of command down the stretch and an inability to manufacture runs when needed that resulted in a 12-3 loss at the Susiegray McConnell Sport Complex in Washington.
“You can’t make a mistake against a team like this because when you do, they know how to capitalize on it,” said head coach Jason Wynne. “They can hit the ball and are talented all the way around.”
Giving up 1.5 runs per game as a team entering the contest, Lawrence sent ace Nicholas Holton to the mound, who allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in 4.2 innings of work, striking out one and exiting Washington with the win. The lengthy Holton, listed at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, also contributed at the dish, going 2-for-2 with a walk, two RBIs and a home run in the fourth inning that inched its way over the wall in dead center, likely leaving few chain-link imprints on centerfielder Kevin Sickert, who came about a foot from making the play.
The Knights countered with their ace, Austin Roscoe, a 5-11 right-hander with a plus fastball and a sweeping slider. Despite a strong start from Wynne’s go-to sophomore, Roscoe surrendered five runs (four earned), eight hits and two walks in 4.1 innings, striking out five.
“As a pitcher, he takes that position to heart,” Wynne said. “He’s improved more in his command, trying to stay ahead of hitters and just being a better thinker out there on the mound. We have some other guys who will step in … We have some guys who throw strikes and some who are still developing. We feel pretty good going forward.”
Roscoe was yanked and replace with sophomore Tyler Hendrix, who was unable to stop the bleeding, allowing another two runs in 1.2 innings of work.
The principal area of concern for Terra Ceia was on the base paths, however, where three runners were cut down trying to steal second on four attempts by Warriors catcher Jarrett Harrell. Like his battery mate Holton, Harrell also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
“There were times when we had guys running and I didn’t know who was giving them the signal,” Wynne said. “You have to eliminate those mistakes, keep our guys on base and find other ways to manufacture runs. Guys trying to take it on their own and trying to make a play, I appreciate the aggressiveness, but in a critical point in the game, you have to be a little bit more on point.”
Lawrence struck first with two runs on three hits and one error in the first inning, but the Knights were able to fight back. Quentin VanEssendelft knocked in Roscoe on a groundout in the bottom half of the frame and a line shot down the line by Kendall Bowen scored Hendrix in the second.
Holton’s home run made it a 3-2 game at the end of four frames and in the fifth inning, Lawrence would put the contest out of reach. Harrel blasted a leadoff double to the gap in right center and Roscoe walked the next batter. Once the Knights’ ace was replaced with Hendrix, the next four batters reached via two walks and back-to-back singles. When the dust settled, the Warriors had posted four runs.
A pair of singles from Austin Wynne and Leland Stotesberry resulted in a run in the sixth, but the Warriors touched up VanEssendelft, who relieved Hendrix, for five runs in the seventh.
“We do have a shot (in the Tarheel Independent Conference), that’s what I just told the guys,” Wynne said after the game. “We’ll see them again in the regular season and in the tournament. It’s a long way to go and we have a lot of games in a short amount of time — three games a week for six weeks. That’s tough. It wears on your pitchers, especially when you only have so many.”
With the loss, Terra Ceia falls to 4-2 (1-1 TIC) and will look to bounce back in conference play on Thursday when the Knights travel to Ridgecroft.