Clarke County Gets Even Against James Wood

Posted: April 13, 2016
The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — When Clarke County’s baseball team faced James Wood in the first meeting on March 29, the Eagles gave up eight runs on just two hits in the first inning.

What a difference two weeks can make.

The Eagles proved to be the opportunistic team in Tuesday’s non-district rematch, taking advantage of three James Wood errors in the first two innings to score three runs en route to a 9-4 victory over the Colonels at Singhas Field.

Clarke County’s Duff Bloomingdale went 3 for 3 with a double and two RBIs, and catcher Kaden Warren went 3 for 4 and drove in a pair of runs. The Eagles (5-3) totaled 12 hits and did not make an error.

“This is by far our most complete game,” Clarke County coach Jon Novick said. “We had great pitching, we had real good defense and 11 or 12 hits depending on how you’re scoring them. We took advantage on some of the errors early, but we came back and hit the ball pretty good the rest of the innings.”

The Colonels (5-6) led 1-0 after Eli Warren’s sacrifice fly scored Ben Russo in the top of the first, but Clarke answered, scoring at least one run in each of the first five innings.

Jordon Turner (2 for 4, two runs) bunted to lead off the bottom of the first with an infield single, but an errant throw by Wood third baseman Brady Renner allowed Turner to go from first to third. Kaden Warren followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Mistakes in the field cost the Colonels again in the second. After Michael Zuleger reached on an error with one out, Bloomindale blasted a single through the middle that went between Wood starting pitcher Mitch Craig’s legs and into center field, allowing Zuleger to score. Bloomingdale scored after Turner reached on the Colonels’ second error of the inning.

Clarke led 3-1 on just one hit and three Colonel errors at the end of the second and never trailed the rest of the way.

“We just played sloppy baseball,” James Wood coach Brent Lockhart said. “We gave them four runs on one hit in the first two or three innings. You can’t do that. We just made too many mistakes and you can’t make that many mistakes in a game.”

Clarke tacked on another run with solid execution and savvy baserunning in the third. After Warren doubled to start the inning, Melusen dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Wood retired Melusen at first, but Warren never hesitated after Renner threw to first and beat the return throw to the plate to put the Eagles ahead 4-1.

“Aggressive baserunning — you’ve got to take the extra base when you can,” said Warren, who scored twice and also threw out a runner attempting to steal second. “That’s how you score the runs. The first couple innings are the most important. If you get down in the beginning, then you’re probably not going to come back so it’s good to start off right.”

Clarke tacked on four more runs in the fourth against James Wood reliever Cody Polk. After Polk struck out Zuleger to start the inning, the Eagles reeled off four straight hits. Chris Davis doubled and Bloomingdale singled. Davis scored on a wild pitch, and Turner followed with a single.

With runners on first and third, Warren doubled to right-center to score Bloomindale. Cody Santmyer drove in Turner and Warren with an RBI single to extend the Eagles’ lead to 8-1.

“We were just really aggressive up there [at the plate],” said Bloomingdale, who also scored a pair of runs. “We got in good counts and really just swung the bats against them and that’s just something we couldn’t do last time. We did everything we needed to [to win].”

Isaac Heavener (1-1) allowed six hits and four runs through four innings in the victory. He struck out one and walked three.

Heavener only allowed one run through the first four innings, but he ran into trouble in the fifth.

Polk crushed a solo homer to left-center to start the inning, and the Colonels reeled off four straight hits. Eli Warren had an RBI single that short-hopped the wall in right-center field, allowing Russo (1-2 with two runs) to score to cut Clarke’s lead to 8-3.

With runners on first and third and no outs, Santmyer entered in relief for the Eagles.

Cameron Eback hit a grounder in between short and third and Turner ranged to the edge of the outfield grass, firing an off-balance throw across his body to start a 6-4-3 double play.

From there, Santmyer got Cameron Gross looking at a called third strike to end the inning.

Santmyer retired the first six batters he faced and did not allow a hit in three scoreless innings of relief. He struck out four, walked one and hit another.

Heavener said his team’s offense provided plenty of support.

“You never really want to surrender the first run, but it’s just the first inning and you’ve got seven innings to play,” Heavener said. “We pulled everything together. If it hadn’t been for that first loss [to James Wood], this game might have been a little bit different but we stuck together as a team. We needed [this win] and now we’re on a three-game winning streak heading to Monroe [on Friday].”

Craig (0-1) took the loss, allowing four hits and four runs (two earned) through three innings.

“Craig’s a sophomore we brought up from JV tonight,” Lockhart said. “He actually pitched very well. He threw 40 pitches in three innings, but we had two errors in the outfield and [another] on that bunt and you take away that he probably throws 25 pitches in three innings. He gave us a chance to win the ballgame — we just didn’t play defense behind him.”

Tyler Matthews went 2 for 3 and scored a run for the Colonels.

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