KILLER INSTINCT: Southside makes Columbia pay in season-opener win

Published 4:02 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2016

MICHAEL PRUNKA | DAILY NEWS SPEED KILLS: Lawrence Brown slides in as he steals third base. His aggressive base running was just part of Southside’s killer instinct on Monday.

SPEED KILLS: Lawrence Brown slides in as he steals third base. His aggressive base running was just part of Southside’s killer instinct on Monday.

CHOCOWINITY — There are certain things a coach wants to see out of his team in its first game of the season. For Southside coach Kevin McRoy, he was pleased with the killer instinct the Seahawks displayed in their 11-3 win over Columbia on Monday.

The Seahawks, trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the third, lit up Columbia for 11 runs over the course of three frames. They chased three pitchers throughout the contest, taking advantage of everything they could.

“They took advantage of it and ran with it,” McRoy said. “They didn’t sit back and wait for it. They stayed aggressive the whole game and, when we got up, they stayed aggressive. … I was pleased with that. A lot of times you get a lead and sit back.”

Dakota Modlin led off in the third with a double to centerfield, which Demitrius Ebron followed up with a single to right field. He advanced to second on the throw, putting two Seahawks in scoring position with no outs.

Lawrence Brown helped break through by plating Modlin when he grounded out. Freshman Wildcat pitcher Peyton Nicholson then walked Dahlton O’Neal, which led to a pitching change for the visitors.

ROUNDING THIRD: Hunter Sparks circles around third base. He put the brakes on, electing not to go for the run quite yet.

Those two leadoff hits were all Southside would get in the frame, but not for a lack of trying. Senior Noah Pierce, who relieved Nicholson, walked three batters and hit another.

No mistake went unpunished as Southside tacked on five more runs to take a 6-3 lead after three. The Seahawks put on base eventually found their way across home plate, whether it was thanks to aggressive base running, passed balls and wild pitches, or fielding errors.

McRoy chalks up the team’s unwavering aggression in the season opener to being a bit more mature this year. It’s something he’s excited to see this early in the campaign.

“It’s very nice, especially considering the last couple of years. We’d get up and they’d kind of get out of the game. Or we’d get down and they’d hang their heads,” he said. “With another year of experience, I’m hopefully going to see some more maturity from them. I really like that mentality and what I’m seeing so far.”

Things weren’t much different for senior Therman Dunbar, who relieved Pierce in the fourth. He gave up a hit and walked five batters in less than an inning of work, giftwrapping another four runs for Southside.

Southside showed that killer instinct on the defensive end, too. After taking the lead, the Seahawks faced just 16 more batters over the course of a dozen more outs.

“The few times we had a chance to make a play defensively, we made it,” McRoy said. “We had a couple of mental errors. I told the players about communication. All of them really stayed into the game. For it to be a first game, I didn’t see first-game jitters. We looked comfortable and we looked confident.”

Starting pitcher Paul Radford put in five solid innings of work. He conceded Columbia’s three runs on six hits and fanned three. Modlin, a sophomore, took the reigns for the last two innings. The Wildcats got just one hit off him and he struck out four of the eight batter he faced.

“I really liked the way Paul pitched. He was questionable before the game,” McRoy said. “He had a little injury the other day in P.E. class, but he looked really good. Cody came in after him and looked solid in relief. I feel like those two are going to be good.”