Grady pounded by Woodward reign and actual rain during 14-3 defeat

The Southerner

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By Mallory Hazell

COLLEGE PARK — Everyone’s seen the riveting games on TV, the kind where the driven and persistent underdog comes back in a glorious victory to defeat the heavily favored and hated rival.

Despite the Knights’ hopeful and determined attitude, this Friday night’s baseball was less David slays Goliath and more Christians travel to Colosseum to face Lions.

Grady squared off against the Woodward War Eagles and were soundly defeated, 14-3.

The sun was high and the warm breeze blew across the field for a pleasant Friday afternoon. A collection of Grady parents, students and fans had made the trip to College Park for the game and cheered as the announcer called the boys’ names that comprised the starting lineup.

Grady started off the first inning at bat. Mendez Elder was first to the plate to face Woodward’s starting pitcher Ben Jernigan.  Elder was out at first after a line drive to third, but the Knights maintained their confidence when Woodward’s Glenn Sawyer stepped up to bat to face Elder on the mound and promptly struck out. They were able to hold them for the remaining of the inning.

In the second inning, the crowd was on its feet as Grady senior Jordan Loveless hit a double, and scored on catcher Austin Planer’s RBI hit to center field. The celebration, however, lasted only a half inning as Woodward hit a home run in the bottom of the second, followed by an RBI, and then another home run in the third. War Eagle Jay Galloway hit a line drive to right fielder Myers Pierce, which brought in another run for Woodward.  By the time the barrage had ended, Woodward had plated three  runs in the inning and led Grady, 3-1.

Tensions were running high in the bottom of the third when Woodward’s Kevin Cosper stepped up to bat against Elder with the bases loaded and two outs.  After one strike, Cosper whacked it to right field, but Pierce caught it to retire the side.

The Knights were able to feel relief, if only temporarily, in the fourth. Sophomore Luke Leonard hit a double, which drove teammate Sawyer Folks to third. Woodward brought the infield in with runners on the corners and Loveless at the plate, but the defensive strategy backfired as Loveless hit a double. Woodward attempted to throw home but the throw was too high and Folks  and Leonard both scored to make the score 5-3.

The smoke from the concession stand serving up burgers and hot dogs galore was billowing as Leonard went in as relief pitcher in the  top of the fifth. Elder moved back into center field. Woodward’s Zach Blonder hit the ball to the outfield where Elder proved he was just as strong there as on the mound with a spectacular catch that had the Grady section cheering.

The fifth inning brought light rain to the evening, sending most fans to a pavilion to watch the game. Despite the mist, Leonard struck out one of the War Eagles, and Planer  made a quick throw to second  and threw out a runner to get another out. By then, massive raindrops began to pelt against the ground and the storm sirens rang throughout the fields.

As the teams took shelter in the gym and most fans huddled under the cover of the pavilion, a spring shower came quickly through. After about 20 minutes, the game resumed in the sixth inning. Grady took to the plate, their determination and longing for a comeback visibly etched on their faces.

“They want it boys, be ready, they want it!” a Woodward parent noted loudly of the Knights.

The emotion, however, did not seem to be enough, as both Peter Mastin and Planer struck out. After the third out, the Knights took to the field to the sound of “Come On Eileen” blaring through the loud speakers.

The team, however, seemed  oblivious to the ’80s pop. Leonard resumed pitching, but the game began to fall apart. He allowed four runs until Loveless was called in to close. Leonard took to third, but Loveless gave up another run. The sixth inning came to a close with a diving catch from Elder.

The crowd had dwindled and those who had remained were left to stand, not wanting to sit in the puddled bleachers. As the seventh ending zoomed by with no plays of note for the Knights, one Grady parent commented on how much difficulty the team was having. “It’s just hard to steal against them, they’re just so quick with the ball.”

When the seventh inning finally came to a close with a final score of 14-3, the evening had faded into a humid night. After the game, both teams took turns running up and down the field and having a team meeting with their coaches.

“Make sure you remember Grady scored first, we got the first run,” Grady’s Coach Raj Patel said.

Unfortunately for Grady, it’s not who scores first, it’s who scores most that matters.

“We had a lot of fun playing in the game,” Woodward senior Galloway said, “and we were pretty pleased with the outcome.”

Despite the tough loss, the Knights weren’t too angry.

“We went out and gave it 110%, we had a good attitude, but it just wasn’t enough for this game,” Leonard said. “Woodward is a really good team and they definitely played like it tonight. We’ll just have to be even better next time.”


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