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Commander sluggers hold off walking Devils
Mar 14, 2007 12:00 am
From John McNeal's perspective, Friendship Christian was fortunate to be hitting Monday night because his Commanders had trouble throwing strikes.
Playing Lebanon for the first time since 2000, Friendship built a big lead before holding on for a 9-5 win at Veterans Field in the season opener for both teams.
Wade Mitchell got Friendship started with a two-run homer off the scoreboard in left field in the first inning. The Commanders clubbed eight of their 11 hits in building an 8-1 lead through three innings.
But the Blue Devils drew nine walks and a hit batter to get back into the game. Five free passes and the hit batter came in the fifth as Lebanon sent 10 batters to the plate and pushed four runners across.
"When you get 10 walks or hit batters and still win, you're just lucky," McNeal said. "Fortunately, we hit the ball pretty well. We made some errors, too. When you make two or three errors and that many walks and still be able win the game...we got to do better in that respect. And that's something we struggled with in preseason, so this isn't something that just happened tonight."
Lebanon coach Tracy Slone said, "We played terrible. I'll give Friendship credit. They came out and swung the bats well. I think their experience, they have a lot of seniors, they start a few young guys. But we start five sophomores and two juniors and two seniors and the two seniors are first-year starters. So we're very young and inexperienced. But we'll definitely get better."
Friendship knocked Lebanon starter Christian Jennings out of the box with two runs in the second inning. Bryant Alsup doubled home Mitch Miller [courtesy running for winning pitcher Stephen Pryor] and Lee Maasen scored on a wild pitch.
Nine Commanders came to the plate in the third and four scored as Alsup and Brent Boyd had RBI singles and Pryor a run-scoring groundout. Another run came across on an error.
Slone pulled reliever Garrett Fanchier for Brent Morris to start the fourth and the right-hander shut the Commanders down the rest of the way, allowing only a sixth-inning run as Brian Cravens doubled and scored on an error.
Pryor struck out five and allowed two hits in the first four innings. But one of his four walks came to Daniel Harrison with the bases loaded in the first.
Cody Searcey struggled with his control in the fifth as the Blue Devils mounted their comeback with just on hit and no errors.
Brian Cravens came on for the final 2 1/3 innings, giving up four hits, but no runs, while walking one and fanning three.
Harrison had two of Lebanon's seven hits and was on base all four times. Morris also managed a pair of hits.
Mitchell, Boyd and G.L. Waynick each had a pair of hits for the Commanders, who finished with 11 safeties.
Both teams are off until the Wilson County Invitational this weekend. Friendship will entertain Antioch at 3 p.m. Thursday and Lebanon will host Smith County at 7:30 p.m. that night.