Redhawks Notch First Region Win

DeAndre Jennings bunts his way to first. (Ross Burton)

BLYTHEWOOD – Both the Westwood and Lower Richland High School baseball teams were winless going into their meeting March 24. For sure, one team would get its first win. To the delight of the home crowd, it was Westwood over the Diamond Hornets 4-3. The weather was quite cold, and threatening rain, but the rain held off through the seven innings and the crowd was bundled against the cold.

Westwood head coach Jonathan Burroughs was hesitant to predict a win, but was confident the team was on its way in the right direction.

“We are in development mode this season. We have to start from scratch and build up from there,” said Burroughs.

The Hornets were first to score on a single by Jontrai Jackson after the first two batters struck out swinging. Jackson successfully stole second, and on a base hit by Lateef Robinson, Jackson came home from scoring position. Robinson attempted to steal second, but an alert Matt Keily threw to second ahead of Robinson, who was run down and tagged by first baseman Ray Branson, retiring the side.

The Hornets weren’t the only team to be caught out stealing. Both Keily and Jackson Evans got singles, but Keily was tagged out while stealing third for the final out of the inning. Both teams stranded players in the second inning and the score remained 1-0 Hornets.

In the top of the third, the first two Hornet batters were thrown out at first base, bringing up the top of the order. Nathan Hart got a hit, as did Fred Cunningham, moving Hart to second. Hart stole third base, and was batted in by Jackson for the Hornet’s second run of the game. Robinson hit a grounder to second, and the second baseman had an easy out at first.

The Redhawks had the game’s highest scoring inning in the bottom of the third. After striking out the first batter, T.J. White was hit by a pitch and took first base. White advanced to scoring position on a single by Keily. White and Keily both scored on a base hit by Evans, which was aided by Hornet errors at both third base and catcher. The game was tied 2-2 after three innings.

In the top of the fourth, LR flied out twice and struck out looking for the third out. Westwood managed to take the lead in the game when both DeAndre Jennings and Jory Harrison were hit by pitches. With Jennings in scoring position, White hit a short grounder to the pitcher for an easy out. However, the pitcher overthrew the first baseman, bringing in Jennings for the go-ahead run.

The Hornets drew even with the Redhawks when Hart hit a long ball into left field for a triple in the sixth. Howard Henderson’s hit allowed Hart to tie the game again, 3-3.

Ray Branson had taken over the pitching duties earlier, and was on a hot streak in the final innings. Having struck out the final Hornet batter in the sixth inning, Branson proceeded to strike out all three batters, making it four strikeouts in a row. Three of those were strikeouts looking.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Westwood’s Keily scored a single and stole second. A hit by Branson gave Westwood their first baseball win of the season as Keily scored the winning run. The game’s winning pitcher was Ray Branson, and the losing pitcher was Roderick Lee.

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