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Rainy day doesn't get baseball Knights down

Kingswood boys plate a run in the sixth to best Kennett

KENNETT’S SCOTTY SAUNDERS ducks back into first base as Kingswood’s Tim Campbell awaits the throw from pitcher Jeff Runnals during rainy day action April 27 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
May 03, 2010
NORTH CONWAY — Playing baseball in the rain is nobody's idea of fun, but the fact that the Kennett and Kingswood baseball teams managed to squeeze in their game between the raindrops on April 27 means that the two teams won't be looking at a makeup game down the road.

"It's nice knowing we don't have any games to make up right now," said Kingswood coach Chip Skelley. "We were lucky enough to just get it in."

The game, originally scheduled for New Durham on April 16, was played in North Conway, on Tuesday, April 27, and the Knights walked away with a hard-fought 3-2 win over their county rivals from Kennett.

With the Knights serving as the home team, Jeff Runnals went out and retired the side in the first inning, getting a nice play from Slayd Dore at third base to end the frame.

The Knights then took a quick lead against Eagle senior Michael Larson in the bottom of the first inning.

Phil Erwin led off with a base hit and stole second. Matt Mangum followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners. The two Knights then executed the double steal, with Erwin coming in from third with the game's first run.

However, Larson settled down and got the next three batters to get out of the inning without any further damage.

Albie Jacobs got the Eagles' first hit in the top of the second with two outs, but Runnals induced a grounder to second to end the frame.

Kingswood manufactured another run in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Dave Harrigan walked and took second on a wild pitch. One out later, Pat Smith blooped a hit to right field and Harrigan raced home with the second run of the game. Smith stole second, but was gunned down trying to steal third, as Jacobs made a strong throw to Josh Drew.

Kennett threatened in the third inning. Scotty Saunders reached on an error and one out later, Alex Milford sacrificed him up a base, with Runnals making a nice play on the wet grass along the third base line to throw out the Eagle leadoff hitter. Runnals then got another grounder to second to end the inning.

Larson got some defensive help in the bottom of the inning, as Drew turned in a nice play at third base. The Eagle pitcher was also able to pitch around a walk to Runnals and a stolen base.

Jeff Sires led off the fourth with a base hit for the Eagles, but Dore, Erwin and Tim Campbell turned a 5-4-3 double play to erase Sires. Nick Massa followed with a base hit and took second on a pickoff error, but Runnals came back with a strikeout to end the inning.

Kingswood went quietly in the bottom of the fourth and the Eagles did the same in the top of the fifth. Kingswood got a leadoff double from Joey Irvine in the bottom of the fifth, but Larson struck out two batters and got a pop-up to second to get out of trouble.

Kennett finally got on the board in the sixth inning. Walks to Milford and Larson and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. One out later, Nick Kevlin grounded to second to plate one run and Massa followed with a double to plate Larson with the tying run. Runnals was able to get out of the inning with a grounder to third.

"We had the chance to get a few more and we didn't," Kennett coach Bob Burns said.

The Knights wasted no time in taking the lead back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Dave Hersey reached on an error and came around to score when Dore knocked a base hit. Campbell also had a base hit, but Larson got a strikeout and Saunders made a nice play on a pop up in shallow right to send the game to the seventh.

With one out, Saunders worked a walk to put the tying run on base in the top of the seventh. Austin Weber entered as a pinch runner, but the Knights turned their second double play of the game, this one of the 4-6-3 variety (Erwin, Mangum, Campbell) and the Knights had the 3-2 win.

"Any time you beat Kennett, it's nice," said Skelley, but the veteran coach also pointed to the fact that Runnals seemed to get his game back after a tough outing a week earlier at Merrimack Valley.

"It was good in the sense that Peanut was starting to hit his stride," Skelley said. "He felt like his curve was starting to work and he was getting his location back."

"We just didn't hit the ball well," Burns added. "But it wasn't a good day to hit anyway.

"We're looking forward to playing them again," he continued.

More Knights

The Knights made some uncharacteristic defense mistakes on Thursday, April 29, at Portsmouth, and the Clippers, being the great team that they are, were able to take advantage and took a 9-2 win.

"If you want to stay with the big boys, you can't do what we did," Skelley said. "And they made some great plays. They had bodies diving all over the infield."

The Knights managed only three hits on the afternoon, but Dore, in only his second varsity start was solid on the mound as well, allowing only six hits to the Clippers and surrendered only two earned runs.

"Slayd, he pitched very well," Skelley said. "The idea was to pitch them all inside and Slayd has good control."

He noted that the gusting wind helped the Knights at one point, keeping a ball seemingly destined for homer heaven in the park.

"There was one shot to left, it would still be going now if not for the wind," the veteran coach mused.

Skelley also noted that the Clippers and St. Thomas are clearly the cream of the crop in Class I.

"You take St. Thomas and Portsmouth out of our league and it's kind of an any given day type of deal," he pointed out.

The Knights will be head to MercantsAuto.com Stadium in Manchester for their next home game, as they entertain the Souhegan Sabers on Friday, May 7, at 4:15 p.m.

"I think the kids are really looking forward to it," said Skelley of Friday's game at the Fisher Cats' home stadium. "I think it's going to be a nice thing."

The Knights will host Portsmouth on Monday, May 10, at 4:15 p.m. and will head to Kennett for a 4:15 p.m. game on Wednesday, May 12.

More Eagles

The Eagles ran into St. Thomas on Friday, April 30, and dropped an 11-3 decision to the Saints in Dover.

The Eagles scored all three of their runs in the first five innings, picking up seven hits in that time and finished with 10 hits overall.

"We didn't have a whole lot of trouble hitting him, we just didn't hit them in the holes," Burns said. "Balls that we hit may have gone through against other teams."

The Eagles will host Oyster River at 4:15 p.m. on Friday, May 7, and will head to Laconia for a 4:15 p.m. contest on Monday, May 10. The Eagles will host the Knights again on Wednesday, May 12, at 4:15 p.m.

"As long as we can have a good week, we are still in a comfortable spot," the Eagle coach noted.

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