Varsity Baseball opened 2017 Region play with a three-game series versus Maynard Jackson High School. The Jaguars hosted two of the three games; the Raiders won all three contests.
The Raiders are looking like a tough team to beat. Throughout the lineup, hitters are scalding the ball. Moreover, the Raider pitching staff is puzzling opponents with variety and control. Each of the Raider starting pitchers has his own version of a sharp-breaking, off-speed pitch that leaves victims walking slowly back to the comfort of the dugout.
Game One: Monday, February 27 at Jackson
The Raiders, coming off two convincing wins against Weber and Galloway, stormed onto the Jackson diamond and picked right back up with aggressive play and hot bats. Behind Sophomore Brett Thomas' complete game (1 run; 3 hits), the Raiders plated 12 runs on 9 hits. Senior Arthur Burrell and freshman wunderkind Chase Engelhard each had triples. Burrell, John Beckley, and Patrick Hope each produced multiple hits in the run-rule shortened game. The Raiders prevailed 12-1 in 5 innings.
Game Two: Thursday, March 2 at Riverwood
Coach Santoro tested a new battery with Senior Coleman Flom, who has been lights-out to this point in the season, throwing to Sophomore Harris Beckley, making his first game appearance this season wearing the tools of ignorance. New catcher -- same results. Flom did not allow a baserunner until the 4th inning. He put together a 1-hit, 5 K, complete game shutout.
In the meantime, the offense again scored in every inning. Senior leftfielder Brandon Moore was 3 for 4 at the plate, including a triple in the third inning. John Beckley was 3-for-3 and scored on his brother Harris Beckley's Texas-leaguer over 3rd base. Keino Robinson had the team's third triple of the night. The men who guard the corners of the diamond, 3rd baseman, Joseph Tobia and 1st baseman Patrick Hope, each had two hits. Burrell led off bottom of the fifth with his second triple in two games. The final run scored on a walk-off single by Moore, who drove in Burrell from third. The Raiders blanked the Jaguars 10-0 in another run-rule shortened game.
Game Three: Friday, March 3 at Jackson
The Jaguars hosted the Raiders on a cold Friday afternoon and tried to salvage at least one game of the series. In their first at bat, the Raiders immediately continued their offensive barrage. Chase Engelhard, Patrick Hope, and John Beckley scored in order on Beckley's double and Joseph Tobia's single to left center. In the second inning, five more runs crossed as Junior Griffin Brown led off with a single and scored on Brandon Moore's single. Chase Engelhard then singled. Moore and Engelhard scored on Patrick Hope's liner up the middle. With Hope on base, John Beckley walked. Hope and Beckley scored on selfless, fielder's choices by Tobia and senior catcher Erick Castro.
While the offense was piling up runs, senior starter Mickey O'Connell pitched beautifully. After giving up a surprise run on two first inning hits, O'Connell loosened up and shut down the order. O'Connell proceeded to no-hit the next 18 batters. His breaking ball was sharp and the Jackson batters were swinging at pitches bouncing in front of the plate. In addition, when they were looking for his breaking ball, O'Connell painted the corner with his fastball. Senior Ben Miller came to the mound in the seventh and he calmly closed the show by inducing a fly-ball to Burrell in center followed by infield ground-outs to Tobia and Dawson Vainer.
All of the scoring took place in the first two innings. The Raiders completed the sweep of the young Jackson team with an 8-1 final.
Region play resumes the week of March 6 with a three game series vs. Carver. The Raiders host Monday, March 6 and Friday, March 10 and take to the road for the Wednesday, March 8 contest. (view schedule)