KINGSWOOD’S Nick Eldridge dives back into first as Kennett’s Scott Conner puts the tag on during action April 18 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 23, 2012NORTH CONWAY — The Kennett baseball team got to Kingswood for five runs in the first inning and that proved to be the difference on Wednesday, April 18.
The Knights were unable to battle back from the 5-0 deficit and dropped a 7-2 decision in North Conway.
Kingswood's Slayd Dore had a two-out base hit in the top of the first inning, but that proved to be a bit more of a problem, even though he was stranded when Kennett hurler Nick Massa got a strikeout to end the inning.
A blister on Dore's hand popped when he got the hit and he had to be attended to by the trainer prior to getting out on the mound for the first inning.
Despite the injury, Dore gutted his way through the entire six innings, with the Eagles only getting multiple runs in the one inning.
"That first inning did us in," said Kingswood coach Chip Skelley. "Massa threw the ball pretty well and it's tough to come from behind for starters."
"We hit pretty well," Kennett coach Bob Burns said. "The kid's (Dore) a pretty good pitcher, he throws hard, but the kids stood up there pretty good."
With one out in the first, Alex Milford and Massa had base hits and Josh Drew drove in the first run of the game with a base hit. After Sean Perley walked, a Scott Conner base hit plated two runs. One out later, Ben Garner doubled home two more runs for a 5-0 lead before the Knights got out of the inning.
Kingswood did answer back in the top of the second inning. Riley led off with a base hit, but he was forced at second on a grounder by Pat Smith. Smith in turn, was gunned down trying to steal second by Drew. Tom Berry reached and Nick Eldridge walked to put two runners on and Asa Stockton delivered a base hit to plate the first run for the Knights. Massa got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Austin Weber and Massa both reached in the bottom of the inning, but the Eagles couldn't score. Both teams went quietly in the third inning and in the top of the fourth, the Knights cut the lead to 5-2.
Berry doubled and came around to score on a base hit by Eldridge.
Kennett answered right back in the bottom of the inning, Weber doubled and took third on a wild pitch. After Massa and Drew walked, Perley lifted a sacrifice fly to center to make it 6-2. However, Kingswood catcher Cole Swancott gunned down the Knight runner at second base when the throw came through to the plate, ending the inning.
Weber made a great diving play at second for the Eagles in the top of the fifth. Dore reached on an error one out later, but the Knights couldn't score. Riley made his own nice defensive play, scooping a low throw at first in the bottom of the inning and Dore kept the Eagles off the board.
Smith had a one-out base hit and stole second in the top of the sixth, but he was stranded by a strikeout and a grounder to second.
With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Milford doubled and came around to score on a base hit by Massa for a 7-2 lead. Dore got out of the inning with a strikeout.
Massa then set the side down in order in the top of the seventh to seal the 7-2 win.
Burns was pleased with his team's defensive effort, something he says helps his pitchers immensely.
"The pitchers know they don't have to strike everyone out," Burns said. "We play good defense, we're solid all around the infield."
The veteran Eagle mentor noted that Massa was able to gut his way through despite possibly not having his best stuff.
"He sucked it up," Burns said. "It's good for his self esteem, when he didn't have his best stuff, to pitch that well."
Skelley noted that he tried to get his players to approach Massa a bit more aggressively in the fourth inning and it worked, to an extent.
"We tried to change our thinking in the fourth and go with the curveball," Skelley said, noting that Massa was throwing his curve for strikes the entire day.
"We had some different people in different positions," the veteran coach continued, pointing to a freshman starting at shortstop and a varsity newcomer at second base, while a usual middle infielder held down third.
"But we did have some good at bats," Skelley said.
The Kennett boys pounded out 14 hits on their way to a 21-1 win over White Mountains on Monday, April 16, but couldn't muster anything against the defending champion Portsmouth Clippers on Friday, April 20, falling 12-0.
Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Sanborn for a 4 p.m. game on Friday, April 27. On Monday, April 30, the boys are at White Mountains at 4 p.m. and they host Laconia at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 2.
The loss to Kennett was the lone bad spot in the week for the Knights, as they beat Plymouth 9-8 on Monday, April 16, and beat Pembroke 11-10 on Friday, April 20.
Next up for the Knights is a home game with Bedford at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 27. The boys visit Coe-Brown on Monday, April 30, and then play at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium against Goffstown on Thursday, May 3. Both games are set for 4 p.m. starts.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126