HOLLY POND – The Good Hope Raiders traveled to Holly Pond Thursday afternoon for their first matchup of the season and were able to come away with an 11-4 road victory. The Raiders struck first when Austin Eakes got home on a passed ball to take a 1-0 lead, but Holly Pond responded quickly in the bottom of the inning when Jacob Ring brought Alex Corneglio home on a double into center field.
For most of the next four innings, the game turned into a pitcher’s duel between Raiders starter Preston Bagwell and Broncos starter Dayden Floyd. They each held their opponents scoreless until the top of the fifth when Floyd left the mound and Good Hope’s bats came alive. Floyd finished after four innings, collecting seven strikeouts and allowing just four hits and was followed on the hill by Parker Sellers.
The top of the fifth was a long one for Broncos fans as Good Hope managed to score six runs in the inning, five of them before the Broncos could come up with an out. One of those runs came off the bat of Blake Lyle when he singled into right field to bring in Josiah Cofer from second base. Lyle reached base in four of his five at bats, leading the game with three hits and two RBIs.
After a quick three strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth from Bagwell, the Raiders headed into the sixth with a 7-1 lead. The Raiders scored on a fielder’s choice and a passed ball in the sixth to stretch their lead to 9-1 with just six outs remaining for the Broncos.
Holly Pond brought in three runs in the sixth, starting when Floyd got home on a wild pitch and Ring brought in Corneglio on a fielder’s choice. Floyd had a good day at the plate as well as the mound, reaching base in three of his four at bats and coming up with two hits. Those runs knocked Bagwell off the mound for the Raiders and brought in Eakes to finish the game.
The Raiders got a couple insurance runs in the top of the seventh when Lyle drove in Cofer and then scored later on a throwing error to third base to take an 11-4 lead into the bottom of the inning. Eakes was able to get three quick outs and secured the Raiders’ first win of the season.
Raiders’ head coach Mitch Witcher was happy with how his team performed overall considering it was game one and they haven’t been able to practice as much as they would’ve liked leading up to this game.
“You know everybody’s been battling the weather, so we haven’t had a lot of practice time, so I thought we played well defensively for our first game. I thought our pitchers did a pretty good job, this being the first time they’ve really thrown live,” Witcher said. “Our hitting was kind of sparse there early on, but I thought we got timely hits as the game went on and we kind of grew up a little bit. We’ve got a long way to go and all the kids know that but we’re excited. We play Saturday and we should be a little more healthy; we’ll have one of our main guys back.”
Witcher was particularly pleased with the performance of his pitchers and catcher during the game.
“I thought Preston Bagwell pitched well. He couldn’t find his rhythm early and then he found it in the middle, then he got tired. I think he threw almost 90 pitches, so we’re really pleased with him overall,” he said. “Our catcher was huge for us, Tyler Legg. He blocked the ball well and he’s got a pretty good arm and threw a couple out.”
Good Hope will be back in action Saturday when the Raiders host Addison and the Broncos will look to bounce back with a win Friday night at Guntersville.
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