The first five games of the 2014 season had not been kind to Coach Kyle Brewer and his Manchester Greyhounds baseball squad, but that changed for the young Hounds last Saturday as they ventured across county lines for a doubleheader that was very kind to them. In the first game of the day, a late rally and some strong pitching led the Hounds to a 6-3 win over host Georgetown and in the finale, a combined one-hitter by Hunter Conley and Sean Frost helped the Hounds to top West Union by a final score of 6-2.
“We played flawless today,” said Coach Brewer after the victories. “A lot of our young guys matured today and we moved in a positive direction.”
In Game One, the Hounds fell behind early. Manchester got a two-out unearned run in the top of the first but the G-Men answered in the bottom of the first, taking advantage of two Greyhound miscues to plate three unearned runs of their own, the only runs the home team was going to get off Hounds’ starter Bryan Young.
The Greyhounds got one of those runs back in the top of the third when Rickey DeAtley singled, stole second and third, and scored on a Cole Hensley sacrifice fly. With Young silencing the Georgetown bats, the Hounds came to the plate in the top of the fifth and grabbed the lead for good, putting up a four-spot.
DeAtley walked to lead off the inning and again swiped two bases as Hensley also drew a walk with one out. After a Georgetown pitching change, Nick Hoskins also drew a free pass to load the bases. Another walk to Colton Thornburg forced home the frame’s first run and Hensley scored when Mason Applegate grounded to short. The final two runs of the inning came when Tyler Brummett reached on an error by the G-Men and a one-run deficit had turned into a three-run lead for the visitors who were now on top 6-3.
All that was left now was for the Manchester pitchers to hold the lead and that they did as Young threw a perfect fifth, but ran into trouble in the sixth and was replaced by fellow freshman Hunter Conley with one out. Conley got Georgetown’s Christian Linville to fly to left and struck out Gage Bradley to leave the bases jammed.
Conley finished off the save in the bottom of the seventh, ending the game on a ground ball right back to the mound and the Hounds had their first win of 2014, topping the G-Men 6-3.
In the win, the Manchester offense was led by DeAtley, who had a pair of hits and stole a remarkable six bases in the game. Leevi Francis also collected a pair of hits and the pitching combo of Young and Conley combined to hold the G-Men to just one hit.
With Conley only throwing 20 pitches to save Game One, Coach Brewer decided to bring him back to start Game Two against West Union and that proved to be a wise choice. With pitchers being at a premium, Conley came through with five innings of one-hit baseball and combined with Sean Frost to lead the Hounds to a 6-2 win over West Union.
With Conley putting zeroes on the Dragon side of the scorebook, the Hounds jumped to a four-run lead with a single run in the first and three in the top of the third off West Union starter Zach Hawes. The first inning run was unearned with Sean Frost scoring on a Dragon error and in the third, Young drove in the first run with a base hit and the other two runs scored on yet another West Union fielding miscue.
The Dragons finally got to Conley in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Taylor reached on an error as misplays in the field continued to be the theme of the game. Chris Fox also reached on an error that allowed Taylor to score and a base hit to center by Brandon Daniel brought home Fox with the second and what turned out to be, final run for the Dragons, who now trailed 4-2.
Manchester picked up insurance runs in both the top of the sixth and the top of the seventh, with an Applegate sacrifice fly accounting for the run in the sixth and a bunt by Young bringing across the run in the seventh, making it 6-2. Frost came on to pitch for the Hounds in the bottom of the sixth and slammed the door, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the seventh with two strikeouts to wrap up a second win of the day for the Greyhounds.
Again, the Manchester pitching was outstanding as Conley and Frost allowed just the Daniel single in the fourth and combined to strike out seven hitters. Hawes took the loss but deserved a better fate, allowing just one earned run in six innings of work, with Chris Fox pitching the final frame for the Dragons.
Both teams were back in action on Thursday with the Greyhounds traveling to Fayetteville and the Dragons playing host to the Lynchburg Mustangs.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.