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Less rest does not bother Hoke in Dogs’ win

Posted: April 10, 2014 11:54 a.m.
Updated: April 11, 2014 5:00 a.m.

 

Pitching on just four days’ rest is not common in high school baseball. But recently, Camden’s Grey Hoke has been anything but ordinary.
Hoke, a 6-foot-3 senior left-hander, threw a three-hit gem last Friday in the Bulldogs’ 2-1 win over top-ranked A.C. Flora. He was even better on Wednesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning before allowing a pair of hits in the seventh as the Bulldogs doubled-up visiting Dreher, 6-3.
The win gave Denny Beckley’s charges a 5-3 record in Region 4-AAA, good for a tie for third in the seven-team circuit along with River Bluff which downed the Dogs, 7-5, one night earlier.
The story on this night, though, was Hoke who faced just 21 batters in the first six frames on a night in which he gave up a single and a double, fanned nine while issuing two walks. The effort had to impress a coach from Charleston Southern University, who took in the game from behind home plate, as well as it did Beckley who said he felt comfortable in sending Hoke to the mound on less rest than usual.
“I talked with Grey ahead of time and told him that he was extended quite a bit last week (vs. Flora),” Beckley said. “That was a little bit of a concern. I wanted to keep my eye on his pitch count tonight and he was fine. I think he got a little tired toward the end and he got the ball up but he’s a tough guy mentally. We thought he’d be fine.”
Asked following the game whether he knew he had a no-hitter going, Hokes smiled and said he did. His chance for a no-no ended when Grayson Stiglbauer opened the seventh with a worm-burner to center which just escaped the glove of a diving CHS shortstop Cole Irick. After issuing a walk, Tyler Fleming doubled to drive in two runners in a three-run Blue Devil seventh which ended with Hoke getting a ground ball out followed by a strikeout.
Offensively, the Bulldogs scored two runs in each of the first, third and fifth frames. Beckley also received a heavy contribution from junior Ross Hough, who was moved from the third to the seventh slot in the batting order and came through with a two-hit, three RBI night. Leadoff man and fellow junior Darius Smith continued his hot stretch at the plate with a pair of singles while scoring two runs.
“Ross has been struggling with the curveball,” Beckley said of sliding Hough down to the seven hole. “Being a number three hitter, you are sometimes going to see a lot of off-speed stuff. We talked about it before the game.
“Before the game, Grey Hoke talked to our team and mentioned that Ross would have the opportunity to see more fastballs and that he knew Ross was going to have a big game for it. We all, kind of, looked like rocket scientists tonight.”
In a contest which enhanced the Dogs’ playoff hopes, the hosts jumped on DHS righty Seth Kays for a pair in the bottom of the first which opened with Smith delivering a leadoff single to right. Irick then legged out an infield single before the pair advanced into scoring position on a Lawson Stokes sacrifice bunt. A pair of consecutive fielders’ choices by Austen Haney and Nick Tucker plated the first two runs.
Two innings later, Smith would ignite a second two-run inning as he reached on an error before Irick bunted him over to second. With two gone, Haney walked before a Tucker line drive single to left brought Smith home. Hough followed with a single through to box to bring courtesy runner Zach Boykin in with the fourth and, eventual, winning run.
With Hoke rolling on the mound, the lead seemed safe. But the Dogs tacked on two more insurance runs in the fifth which would loom large when the guests scored three times in their final at-bat.
Haney got the inning kick-started with a one-out single to center. Tucker’s grounder to third was then booted for an error as Boykin, again, came into run for the Camden catcher. A wild pitch put the runners in scoring position for Hough who lined a two-run double to left to raise the lead to 6-0.
Having a six-run cushion, Beckley was asked if Hoke did not have a no-hitter intact, would he have gone to his bullpen in the seventh to give his lefty ace an early night. He thought about the question for a second and said, his team’s inconsistency at times this season, would not allow him to think this game was on ice.
 “Probably not,” he said when that scenario was posed to him. “With the way things have been going this year, I didn’t want to mess with it too much. It worked out for us.”
Beckley called Wednesday’s contest “one of the most complete games we’ve played in a long time.” In addition to Hoke’s effort, the Dogs committed just two errors in the field and collected eight hits.
Following a tough loss on Tuesday to River Bluff, the Bulldog boss said coming out with the win the next night was about more than just staying in a tie for third place with four league games left on the schedule.
“It’s a huge win for us in the conference but more importantly, it’s a big win for our psyche,” he said. “Last night, we played a solid game, but we didn’t really show up until the fifth inning.
“As crazy as this sounds, midway through the season for us to have to say this, tonight we were much more focused on starting out well. We did that with a big inning in the first inning.”

River Bluff breaks away for 7-5 victory: On Tuesday night in Lexington, Camden dropped a 7-5 decision to host River Bluff.
The outcome left both sides with 4-3 records in Region 4-AAA play.
The host Gators got to Camden starter Will Abbott for two runs into the home half of the first before adding another in the third inning to go out to a 3-0 lead.
The Bulldogs took the lead thanks to a four-run top of the fifth.
Lawson Stokes started the rally with a leadoff double. Carson Morgan then reached on an error to bring in a run while Morgan scored when Darius Smith got on base by another RB error. A third Gator error on an Irick bunt brought home the second run.
Hough knotted things at three with an RBI single while Tucker’s one-out ground out plated Irick with the go-ahead run.
The Gators answered the CHS salvo with a three-run bottom of the fifth before tacking on a seventh run in the sixth.
The Bulldogs closed the gap to its final two-run difference with a run in the top of the seventh.
Tyler Jordan got on base with a leadoff single and later scored on Hough’s sacrifice fly, his second RBI of the night.
Camden collected seven hits with Jordan having a two-hit contest.
Abbott worked the first 4.2 innings before giving way to Josh Hough, who finished out the game in which River Bluff had a dozen hits.

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