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Story: Warriors escape playoff scare
Warriors escape playoff scare
Freshman Sam Barber’s RBI single lifts Hampton Christian into the state semifinals.
By MARTY O’BRIEN | firstname.lastname@example.org | 247-4963
HAMPTON — As expected, top-seeded Hampton Christian High earned another trip to the private schools Division 2 state baseball tournament semifinals. The surprise was that the Warriors’ 2-1 victory over No. 8 Hampton Roads Academy in the quarterfinals Tuesday was so difficult.
Freshman Sam Barber’s opposite-field single to left with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning scored K.C. Judkins with the winning run. Judkins had reached on a double by lofting a ball to left-center that eluded two HRA outfielders by about a foot.
Up to that point, the Warriors (25-2) threatened rarely against HRA right-hander Garrison Sarrett. By contrast, the Navigators (9-9) failed to score runners from third base six of the eight innings.
“The team that probably deserved to win it today, didn’t win it,” HRA coach Tommy Yevak said of his team. “We left too many men on. Fate was not on our side.”
The Navigators generated so many chances by exhibiting great discipline at the plate. Freshman left-hander Jake Cave struggled with control and HRA’s patient batters worked him for nine walks.
HRA used Evan Forrest’s lead-off walk to manufacture a run and take a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Forrest advanced to second on Robert Abbott’s bunt single and to third on David Otey’s sacrifice, before scoring on Andrew Oppenheim’s sacrifice fly to left.
But Abbott was stranded on third to end the inning, which proved to be the Navigators’ fate four other innings. Time after time, Cave bore down and made the big pitches when he needed to.
“You got a taste of Jake’s mental toughness and emotional maturity, today,” HC coach Mike Moore said.
That was particularly true in the seventh and eighth innings. Cave walked the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, but got out of the jam with consecutive groundouts.
The Navigators used a walk and a single to put runners on first and third bases with one out in the eighth. Cave ended the inning by fielding two consecutive grounders: tagging out a runner as he ran toward the plate on the first one, then throwing to first to end the inning on the second.
Sarrett, a William and Mary signee, faced fewer jams because the Warriors chased his high fastball throughout the day with little success. Like Cave, Sarrett struck out 11.
Cave’s sacrifice fly in the fifth was the only run the Warriors scored off of Sarrett until the eighth. Sarrett’s teammates probably should’ve handled the fly ball that fell in for Judkins’ double.
Barber made HRA pay.
“He threw me a fastball a little up, and I knew if I could get it in play (Judkins) would score,” Barber said. “I was so excited I didn’t know what to do.
“I kept running around second.”
Barber’s reward? He got to rake the dirt around home plate afterward.
“Got to keep them humble,” Moore joked.
Oh, Barber gets another reward. He and his teammates head to the state semifinals Thursday in Petersburg to face Miller School.
Finalists five of the past seven years, the Warriors will go after their third state title this decade.
No. 1 HAMPTON CHRISTIAN 2, No. 8 HRA 1
HRA 001 000 00 – 1 3 2
HC 000 010 01 – 2 5 2
WP – Cave (6-0), LP – Sarrett. Standouts – HRA, Sarrett (triple, 11 strikeouts); HC, Cave (3-hitter, 11 strikeouts), Barber 2-4 (game-winning RBI single with one out in 8th). Records – HC 25-2, HRA 9-9.
Last edited by R.L. Bynum : 05-13-2008 at 11:09 PM.