Prep baseball: Riverside grinds its way to sixth victory
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Riverside's baseball team has struggled with inconsistency at the plate and the field through the first third of the season.
But that doesn't overly concern the Warriors Coach Chris Hawkins.
"We tell our kids that you're going to lose a third of your games, you're going to win a third of your games, but what's important is what you do with that other third of your games," Hawkins said following a 7-6 road win over Capital on Thursday at Sam Carpenter Field. "This is one of those games that's categorized as that "other third" games, because it's not a for sure win or a for sure loss.
"We had to battle and being able to just come out and find a way to get it done is important. If we find a way to get it done, that's all we care about."
The Warriors (6-5) got the job done behind a solid pitching effort by sophomore southpaw Brady Wilkinson (2-1), a couple of timely hits, and a little help from four Cougars (5-9) errors.
Wilkinson struggled to control his curveball early on, walking three and throwing four wild pitches in the first two innings, before settling down in the middle innings.
Wilkinson allowed just four hits, three of which came in the first three innings and finished with four strikeouts and six walks.
"He's a kid that typically feels his way out the first inning or two and then he settles down and gets in a groove," said Hawkins, who is in his third season guiding the Warriors. "The big thing about him is that he's got utmost confidence in himself. He's not cocky, but he just has confidence in himself. He's not afraid to pound the zone and he trusts all of his pitches."
Wilkinson, making only his third start of the season, settled down when he started to control his curve.
"I struggled at first trying to find the strike zone," Wilkinson said. "Once I found the strike zone I was hitting my spots and my fielders made plays.
"I was trying to work my curveball for first pitch strikes early on. That helped me out and then later in the game I started to get my fastball over for strikes and then I just tried to mix my pitches up. That's what got them to chase a few pitches."
Capital turned both of Wilkinson's second-inning walks in to the first runs of the game when Austin Ellis' groundout plated Anthony Gavin and Brandon Thomas' single brought home Kavin Kincaid.
Riverside knotted the score in the top of the third with the help of the Cougars' first error and an RBI single by Chaz Davis.
The Warriors took their first lead in the fifth when pinch hitter Cameron Green led off with a double and came around to score on a two-out, RBI double by Aaron Halstead. Halstead scored two batters later on an RBI single by Derik Chestnut.
After trading runs in the sixth, Riverside opened a 7-4 lead in the seventh when Tyler Hall scored on another Capital error, followed by an RBI single by Drew Mack that plated Cameron Norris. Mack was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
The Cougars made things interesting in the home half of the seventh, turning a hit batsman, two errors and a pair of walks into two runs to cut the lead to 7-6, with two outs and the bases loaded.
Senior Tyler Hall came on to end the Cougars' threat by striking out Kincaid to end the game.
The loss was yet another stinging defeat for Capital, which lost by one run for the sixth time in nine losses.
"It's really getting old, but we're going to continue to go through and keep plugging along," Capital Coach Robert Massey said. "The biggest thing I was not pleased with is that we're not even playing the bottom of the seventh inning if we don't make errors. We had four or five errors and I know it cost us at least three runs."
Massey was pleased with the performance of junior right-hander Austin Hupp.
Hupp, making his first start of the season, gave up 12 hits, while striking out five and allowing just one walk.
"Austin Hupp gave probably one of the gutsiest performances I've had up here in seven years," Massey said. "I looked at him and said 'Buddy we ain't got anybody else. It's you or nothing,' and he went and he gave us everything he had.
"You just have to take your hat off to him."