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Knights Storm Past Dukes

If the sport of baseball had a clock, Cumberland's 27-8 home loss to Buckingham Wednesday afternoon may not have happened.

Cumberland, which has been playing good baseball of late, was up 8-3 through four innings, but there is no four-corners or three-yards in a cloud of dust in baseball. Just 21 outs. The first 12 came relatively easily, before things finally fell in place for Buckingham.

Cumberland's once comfortable lead heading into the fifth gave way to a 14-8 deficit. Buckingham carried the momentum into the sixth and scored another 13 runs to win in six innings.

“We started off flat and couldn't get it in gear,” said BCHS head coach Mike Jones. “They were ready and took it to us early, but we always preach that we need to keep battling, and eventually good things will happen. We kept putting the ball in play and got a few breaks, then things started to really fall in place for us.”

“It just got out of hand,” said CHS head coach Duane Partusch. “We made a few mistakes in the field, and that's all it took for things to turn the way they did. We did a good job of limiting our mistakes early on, or if we made them, we were able to recover, but everything went sour in the fifth.”

Buckingham junior Landon Allen took the win in relief for the Knights, while CHS starter Justus Dowdy was chased in the fifth inning, as the Knights were making their move.

“He pitched a good game,” said Partusch of his starting pitcher. “He got tired, and I took him out. Maybe he had a little more left, but it's early in the year, and he's young. I think he gave everything he could. Sometimes when teams get in a groove like that, it just becomes too difficult to stop.

“We got our heads down too much, and it got away from us. We've played good baseball, and have proven that we can play with the best, but we've got to finish the game.”

Over the past few seasons, Buckingham Knights (6-3, 1-0 JRD) have had a tendency to start the season slowly. Especially with their bats. That doesn't seem to be as much of a concern this year, despite losing a large number of players to graduation from last year's James River District Tournament championship team.

“It's kind of strange to say it this way, but we've only got four seniors for a change,” said Jones. “That's good and bad, but the younger guys have been playing pretty well for us, and the leaders have been leading by example, and our younger players have been following that.

“I'm pleased with our play thus far. Of course, we'd like to have a better record, but we usually start a little slow, and heat up as the year goes on. In some respects, we're not having that slow start.”

Offensively, the Knights are ahead of where they've historically been before spring break.

“We're scoring a lot of runs at this point in the season,” said Jones. “That was one thing that I was especially concerned about coming into the season, but to our pleasure, it's been our brightest spot.”

One thing that hasn't started slowly over the years has been Buckingham's defense. Maybe it was necessary due to the lack of offensive numbers. Jones sees that as an area that's solid, but can improve.

“We've started with defense and go from there,” said Jones. “It's been solid, but there are times where we've fallen apart, and have had to regain our composure. To their credit, they seem to play better as the game goes along. We preach the same thing for our defense as we did our offense today. Keep battling, and good things will eventually happen, and for the most part, that's true.”

Buckingham was scheduled to host Central of Lunenburg on April 13, before traveling to Randolph-Henry on April 19.

Cumberland, meanwhile, was scheduled to travel to Central on Thursday. The Dukes' home game with Central Virginia Home School, originally scheduled for Friday has been cancelled, and will not be rescheduled.

Next week, Cumberland will travel Amelia on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. contest.