Dukes Open With Win Over PE

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

CUMBERLAND – Tuesday afternoon's game between Cumberland and visiting Prince Edward showed two improving baseball programs that are looking to make strides toward the top of their respective districts in 2012.

Cumberland, which was playing in its opener won 7-1 over a Prince Edward club that had posted a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over Buckingham on Monday afternoon.

“I think our guys knowing that they [Prince Edward] beat Buckingham helped to give us a little motivation, and it helps us going forward,” said CHS head coach Duane Partusch. “We beat a team that's getting better. I think knowing that, it will be a real confidence-builder for us. It shows our guys that they can compete.”

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Prince Edward was unable to sustain the momentum it had built with Monday's victory over the Knights.

“You would think that we would be jacked up to play today,” said PECHS head coach Michael Weaver. “It had been a while since we've beaten Buckingham up there and I was hoping we'd be able to carry it over to today, but we didn't come to play. At least not as much at Cumberland did.

“We were really aggressive yesterday, and we're going to play an aggressive style, but we weren't really that aggressive today. We kept popping the ball up, instead of putting the ball on the ground and making the defense work. That will come with practice.”

In a battle of two teams that tend to be aggressive at the plate and on the bases, Cumberland did appear to be the more hungry of the two.

“We had some mistakes and made some errors, but we can easily fix those,” said Partusch. “I think we did a good job of being aggressive and putting the ball in play.”

The Dukes scored a run in the second and five more in the bottom of the third. Tyler Garrett scored from third on a throwing error to give the Dukes the early lead.

Senior Hunter Glover led off the bottom of the third with a single and scored on an RBI single by Dylan Samuels. Freshman Jacob Perry singled in Garrett and Samuels to give CHS a 3-0 lead.

Perry scored on a single by Requan Williams on what was really the only time either team threw the ball around the infield when the PE outfielder failed to hit the cut-off man. Williams sped to third and scored on a passed ball to give the Dukes a 5-0 lead.

Cumberland came close to giving it back in the top of the fourth, but got out of a potential big inning when Austin Reames turned an infield single into a run on a RBI single by Chay Fitts. Fitts was caught at second trying to stretch his hit into a double. Darrell Shumaker walked and his courtesy runner, Dylan Ott, stole second and third base, but could get no further as Cumberland was able to get out of the inning.

The Dukes added a run in the bottom of the fifth. Perry reached on an error, and pinch runner Cody Tyson moved around the bases on a passed ball and scored on a single by Williams.

After that, neither team was able to do much offensively, despite both squads changing pitchers.

“We're pretty deep in that regard,” said Weaver. “We lost five seniors from last year, and we're having to try people in new places, but we do have a lot of pitching talent that will help us as we adjust to this younger team.”

“That was a problem we had in the past,” said Partusch. “Our starter could pitch pretty well until he got tired, and I wouldn't have a good option to go to after that. We saw that in the Buckingham game here last year. Our starter got tired, and we didn't have a good option. That's going to be the key for us this year – can our pitching hold out.”

Prince Edward and the other four members of the Southside District will get to battle for a true district title. In the past, Powhatan, which moved into the Jefferson District, was almost always an automatic bet to take the title, as the remainder of the district battled for second place.

“We should be right there with everybody,” said Weaver. “Park View turned out to be the top dog after Powhatan, and we were able to beat them, so I guess you could consider them the favorites, and Southampton can be solid as well. You never know. Greensville and Brunswick has some talent, and they could get hot and come out on top. It's a wide-open race this year.

“We've got a new outfield, and that's where we'll improve on the most as the season goes on. If we can do that, I feel that we have the pitching staff that will allow us to be in the hunt for the district title.”

The Southside's loss was the James River's gain, as both Nottoway and Bluestone both moved from the former to the latter district. Goochland also returns to the district, with an eye of climbing back to the top of the JRD.

“We played Bluestone last year and didn't fare badly, but when you add those three teams to Randolph-Henry and Amelia, we've got our work cut out for us. But we've got a lot of younger guys that are looking to step up. We only have two seniors and four juniors, so we're young, but they're good leaders, and they're really helping our younger guys. They're working well together. It's a good group.”