WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
Emotions were running high at Grafton High on Friday as the Clippers honored their senior baseball players and dedicated their new press box to late Grafton baseball coach Henry Connell before their final regular season home game.
With Grafton's seniors standing on the field with their parents, Grafton coach Matt Lewellen delivered an emotional speech to the crowd, saying Connell was shining down on them from a better place.
Grafton's baseball team, which Connell gave so much time and effort to, played like they had a guardian angel watching over them during Friday's 10-3 rout of Warhill.
The Clippers did not let the emotions negatively affect their play, as timely hitting and a strong performance from starting pitcher Evan Sperling propelled Grafton to its victory.
In the bottom of the first inning, Grafton's Aaron Leonard stole home off a wild pitch. One at-bat later, Ricks Dearing smacked an RBI double to bring Jordan Sprouse home.
Sperling kept the momentum going as he banged an RBI single up the middle to bring home another run, putting the Clippers on top 3-0 early.
The one blemish on an otherwise dominant game for Grafton was the top of the third inning in which Warhill's Pat Daly stepped to the plate and crushed a three-run home run over the right-center fence to tie the game at 3-3.
Warhill's momentum was short lived, as the Clippers responded with six runs of their own in the bottom of the third inning.
The six-run inning, which started with a walk by Sprouse, was followed up by back-to-back RBI singles from Dearing and Sperling. Two at-bats later, Zach Lechthaler hit an RBI double that gave way to an RBI single from Jacob McAllister to put Grafton on top 7-3.
Grafton's momentum did not stop there. A walk led to an RBI single by Leonard, which was followed up by a walk by DJ Dobbins. With the bases loaded, Sprouse took advantage of his second at-bat of the inning by earning a walk that brought home another run.
By the time the dust settled in the inning, Grafton found itself up 9-3.
"Hitting is contagious," Lewellen said. "Led by our seniors tonight, we just kept it going. This was a great team win."
As the Grafton offense flourished, Sperling dealt on the mound. Sperling finished the game with 11 strikeouts and three earned runs over six innings during the winning effort.
Grafton's final run came off an a Leonard RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning that brought McAllister across home plate.
It was fitting Grafton would win in such impressive fashion on the day Connell's press box was dedicated, Lewellen said.
"Henry [Connell] is looking down happy and excited that we've done this. He's looking down happy that his friends and family came together to fund this," Lewellen said. "It was a special day for me."
Grafton (9-7) will continue its season on the road against Bruton at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Meanwhile, Warhill (9-6) will host Jamestown at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Warhill: 003;000;0 – 3 4 1
Grafton: 306;010;x – 10 10 2
WP: Evan Sperling
LP: Luke Bruce
Warhill: Pat Daly (2-3, 3 RBIs), Lucas Rice (1-3, R)
Grafton: Ricks Dearing (2-3, 2 RBIs), Evan Sperling (2-4, 2 RBIs), Aaron Leonard (2-4, 2 RBIs)
Jamestown Overcomes Slow Start to Defeat York
York’s David Brewster opened Friday afternoon’s game against Jamestown with gusto, blasting a two-run shot over the left-field fence.
York’s dugout celebrated, and it appeared the Falcons were set for a competitive matchup with one of the Bay Rivers District’s top teams, Jamestown.
The next six innings did not follow suit, as Jamestown starting pitcher Corey Williams settled into a dominant performance. The Eagles offense kicked into gear, easing the hosts to a comfortable 6-2 win Friday afternoon.
“Great win top to bottom for our guys. Good pitching, and we executed our small ball well. We moved some guys over and drove them in,” Jamestown coach Mike Kuebler said. “We did really well manufacturing runs with outs, not just hitting station to station.”
After giving up the early home run, Williams threw five and a third scoreless innings. Williams, a Christopher Newport University commit, allowed two runs on seven hits and recorded four strikeouts before leaving in the sixth inning.
Across from Williams, York sent their own Division I recruit to the mound. Eric Harp, set to play for Longwood University next season, did not fare as well as Williams. Jamestown racked up six runs on 10 hits during Harp’s five innings.
Jamestown second baseman Roger Romero, who finished with three singles and a run scored, said the Eagles were prepared for Harp.
“Harp is a great pitcher, Division I committed. In practice, we were working outside change-ups, and that’s where Eric Harp lives,” Romero said. “Today, we were all just thinking line drives up the middle and hard ground balls.”
After falling behind 2-0 after the opening frame, Jamestown cut the deficit to one in the second inning. Cole Jones singled up the middle to plate Romero for the Eagle’s first run of the afternoon.
The Eagles pulled away in the third inning. Evan Lowery drove a deep fly ball to center and what should have been a routine out turned into an error-induced double. Lowery stole third on a pitch in the dirt before Kent Klyman’s hard grounder, assisted by another fielding error, brought Lowery home.
After Romero bunted safely to put runners on the corners, Cameron Mays’ grounder drove in a run. With no outs, Romero took liberty on the bases, stealing third before scoring on a passed ball.
“I was taking second and taking third all the way,” Romero said. “I got [Harp’s] timing down in warmups. I was downhill getting ready to run on the bunt, and the catcher dropped it and I was already on the move.”
Jamestown tacked on two more runs in the ensuing inning. Garrick Colorado drew a walk before advancing to third thanks to a steal and a ground-out. Lowery then stepped to the plate and launched a shot well over the right-field fence, good for the game’s final runs.
“To combine both power and small ball is pretty scary, in a good way,” Kuebler said.
York tallied 10 hits on the day, but struggled to advance runners. Two singles failed to materialize into runs in the seventh inning, encapsulating the Falcons' afternoon at the plate.
“We had some opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them,” York coach Rusty Ingram said. “A couple of close calls there, but it is what it is. If you’re going to play a good baseball team, then you need to execute the baseball skills. We didn’t execute them today.”
Jamestown (12-3) travels to Warhill Tuesday, while York (9-7) heads to Tabb for a second consecutive road game.
“It’s a learning experience,” Ingram said, “and hopefully we get a little better Tuesday.”
York: 200;000;0 – 2 10 3
Jamestown: 013;200;x – 6 11 2
WP: Corey Williams (6.3 IP, 2R, 7H, 4K)
LP: Eric Harp (5 IP, 6R, 10H, 2K, 4BB)
York: David Brewster (2-3, HR, RBI), Eric Harp (2-3), Liam Griffin (2-3)
Jamestown: Garrick Colorado (1-2, BB, R), Evan Lowery (2-3, HR, RBI, R), Roger Romero (3-3, R), Cole Jones (2-2, RBI, BB)
— Chris Weber contributed this game recap.
Barrett Shuts Down Bruton During Tabb Win
Tabb pitcher Robbie Barrett kept Bruton at bay Friday afternoon, allowing two hits and no earned runs in a complete-game effort that ended with Tabb on top 6-2.
After three consecutive singles in the top of the second inning, Tabb's Robert Tulloss drove in a run thanks to a fielding error by Bruton's Kyle Morgan.
Three at-bats later, Nick Hunter drove a hard ground ball to left field that drove in two runs, putting the Tigers on top 3-0.
Bruton's Nate Florence tried to keep the Panthers in the game, reaching second base on a fielding error in the bottom of the second. Two at-bats later, Tredell Blow also reached base on a fielding error, bringing Florence across home plate.
Tabb began pulling away in the top of the fourth after the Tigers plated a pair of runners, going up 5-1.
The Tigers never looked back, cruising to a 6-2 victory and their fifth consecutive win.
Tabb (12-5) will hope to continue its win streak at home against Tabb at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Conversely, Bruton (2-13) will look to snap a 10-game losing streak when the Panthers visit Grafton on Tuesday.
Tabb: 030;201;0 – 6 9 4
Bruton: 010;100;0 – 2 2 3
WP: Robbie Barrett
LP: Tyler Floyd
Tabb: Nick Hunter (1-4, 2 RBIs), Evan Glass (1-4, 2 RBIs)
Bruton: Nate Florence (1-2, 2 R), Zack Calloway (1-3)