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Golden Rams win battle of dueling aces

Chesterfield waits until last at-bat to down Knights, 3-0

Posted: March 14, 2012 2:22 p.m.
Updated: March 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

By TOM DIDATO

C-I (Camden, S.C.) sports editor

In the midst of a flurry of 1-2-3 innings, North Central head baseball coach Robbie Cash quipped, “The way this thing is going, three runs is going to be a mountain to climb.”

Actually, given the way his pitcher, Grayson King, and Chesterfield ace,  Jack Boswell, were going at it, three runs given to either of the right-handers would have been akin to the opposing offense having to scale Mount Everest in shorts and flip flops.

In two dazzling mound performances by the two juniors, it was a wild pitch with two outs in the seventh inning which led to the only run visiting Chesterfield and Boswell would need. The Golden Rams would tack on two more, thanks to Taylor King’s two-run blast, to escape Boonetown with a 3-0 win.

The guests, the top-ranked team in class A, improved to 1-1 on the season and 1-0 in Region 3-A play with the victory. The loss dropped the Knights to 2-6 overall and 0-1 in 3-A action.

After the Golden Rams did their offensive damage, there was one large chunk of their puzzle left to be completed. That was, whether or not Boswell could put the bow on what had been a six-inning perfect game.

Having retired the first 18 batters in order --- 12 of which he set down on strikes --- Boswell’s chance at placing his name in the school’s record books went by the boards when Broderick Gaither led off the home half of the seventh by sending a single through the gap between shortstop and third base. It was the Knights’ lone hit of the 84-minute contest in which the CHS ace threw 63 of his 89 pitches for strikes.

Cash said he was impressed with the way Boswell handled himself while using three different pitches --- fastball, curve and slider --- to keep the Knight batters and their coach, guessing.

“(Boswell) was able to get ahead in the count,” Cash said. “You can tell that he’s a very mature, very polished and a seasoned pitcher. He was in control out there. He never let up on us.

“He threw all his pitches well. I tried to get a gauge on him, but I couldn’t tell what he was throwing. He mixes his pitches well, throws them for strikes and when one of them goes 87 or 88 (miles per hour) you have a good chance at winning a baseball game.”

Not to be outdone, King fired a gem himself as he allowed just three hits on the night and only one through the first six frames. The returning All-State selection fanned six in being tagged with his first loss in three decisions this season.

“It’s a shame either one of these pitchers had to lose this game,” CHS head coach Jimmy Weatherford told Cash as the two men met at home plate following the game.

Last week, Cash hinted that he might save King to pitch tonight’s game at Great Falls. But given the opportunity which presented itself on Tuesday, he decided to hand the ball to his team’s mound ace.

“You’re playing the number one team in the state at home and with the way Grayson has been throwing, you have to give him a chance to win it,” Cash said. “If I was Grayson, I would have been screaming for the ball. I’ve been in that situation before where I looked to my coach and said, ‘Give me the ball. Give me the ball.’

“Grayson wanted the ball so, I gave it to him. He’s a great young pitcher who has a great future ahead of him. He’ll learn from this experience. It’s not too often that you get the chance to pitch against the number one team in the state and the defending state champion. This will only make Grayson a better player.”

While Boswell ripped through the NC order, including striking out the side in both the second and fourth frames while posting more than one strikeout in five innings, King allowed his defense to get into the act.

The Knights closed the third inning with a double play as freshman second baseman Levi Williams flipped the ball to eighth-grade shortstop Tyler Bowers who fired a strike to Ryan Baker at first base on a Chase Freeman grounder.  After the Golden Rams’ Colby Croxton singled to open the fourth, King fielded a comebacker which he sent to Bowers at second who completed the twin killing by getting cleanup hitter Colby Pate at first.

Neither side was able to advance a runner beyond second base until the seventh. Taylor King, who led the game off with a walk, was on second with two gone in the first. He was left hanging there after Grayson King got Trent Allen to fly to right for the third out. Six inning later, the Golden Rams changed that statistic.

It would be David Grant who opened the top of the seventh by dropping a two-strike single into shallow right field. He was bunted to second by Dylan Woodward.

Later, Cash said a communication issue between right fielder J.P. Faulkenberry and himself gave Grant too much room in the opposite field. “(Grant) should not have been on base,” said the NC boss. “At the beginning of the inning, we had a mix-up and J.P. was playing too deep. That was a coaching mistake by me. I should have had him in closer.”

With one gone, Jordan Owens then smacked a grounder to Bowers, who tried to get the lead runner, only to have Grant beat the throw as he slid safely into third. Boswell had a chance to help himself, only to send s soft fly ball to Baker, who made the catch in foul territory for the second out.

With Taylor King at the plate with a 1-1 count, the pitch got away, allowing Grant to come across the game’s first run while Owens went to second. Taylor King then added a pair of insurance runs as he deposited a 3-2 pitch just beyond the fence in left to give Boswell a 3-run cushion with three outs left to get.

“On the 3-2 pitch to King on the home run, that was my fault,” Cash said. “I called for a fastball there and tried to make something happen. That home run was on me.”

Gaither’s single quickly ended the suspense as to whether Boswell would be able to continue with his quest of perfection. After the single, the lanky pitcher just smiled and shrugged his shoulders as he looked at Croxton, the Chesterfield catcher.

After a strikeout and a fly out to third base, NC showed there was still life left in it when Andrew Galuppi’s grounder to third base went into left field for an error. That would be the extent of the threat as Boswell sent the crowd home early with his 14th punch out of the night.

Even after the guests scored three times in the top of the seventh, Cash said he did not lose hope. “I thought we had one last shot in us with the top of the order coming up,” he said. “I thought we had a chance.”

Cash tipped his hat to both catchers, Galuppi and Croxton, for their work in handling their respective pitchers on this night.

One thing neither side was able to do was get much of a breather when they returned to their respective dugouts after having played in the field for short stints.

“By the time you were able sit down when you were on offense, you had to get back up and go back out there to play defense,” Cash said. “Both pitchers were ‘on’ and worked quickly … what a great high school baseball game this was.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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