It may have made for a messy scorebook but Camden Highbaseball coach Denny Beckley came out clean when asked his plan of attack in Monday’s game with Ridge View in the Kershaw-Richland Wooden Bat Tournament.
Playing every one of his players, the Bulldog boss saw a trio of right-handers combine on a one-hitter in an 8-0 shutout at American Legion Park.
Given the fact that each member of his team’s roster contributed toward the win in what, at times, had the feel of a major league exhibition contest helped Beckley and company put last Friday’s 5-3 Region 4-AAA loss to Chapin in the rear-view mirror.
"Every coach is going to say this," Beckley said, "but I love our guys so much. It’s hard as a coach to not have enough opportunities to give them as much playing time as they deserve; they all deserve to play a lot more.
"When you get them into a game like this, a relaxed game where everybody’s having fun and there’s no pressure, it makes for so much better of a night. I believe that every one of our kids had an at-bat today and when you are able to do that, it helps, as well."
The Dogs, who collected nine hits from as many different players, also benefitted from six walks issued by Blazer pitching while having four players hit by a pitch.
Camden, meanwhile, started Will Abbott who worked two hitless frames before giving way to Drew David who allowed a leadoff single to Fate Young in the top of the fifth for RV’s lone hit. Austen Haney came on in the sixth and worked two perfect frames, fanning half of the six batters he faced.
Abbott received the starting nod six days after throwing 130 pitches in a complete game effort in last Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Richland Northeast. Beckley later explained why he sent the 6-foot-4 junior to the hill during a week in which Abbott will receive one more start.
"We wanted to give Abbott a start," Beckley explained. "He’s really struggled in the first inning and we wanted to give him two innings today. We’re going to give him the start on Thursday, also.
"It’s going to look crazy but we really want him to work on starting off a game and hopefully, getting into a better game mode and not having a bad first inning. That is kind of the method to our madness in giving him two starts this week."
Abbott was given a five-run cushion after the first inning.
Cole Irick led off with a single to center and promptly stole second before moving to third on Tyler Jordan’s infield single. Lawson Stokes then delivered the Dogs’ third straight hit, an RBI single to right to drive in Irick with the winning run.
The rally continued with Ross Hough sending a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Jordan while Stokes came home on a wild pitch to make it 3-0. A walk to Devin Beckley and Haney’s being hit by a pitch got re-ignited things. After the pair moved up a base on a wild pitch, they scored the fourth and fifth runs on Christian Flick’s two-run single down the left field line.
Camden left runners on the corners in the third before tacking on two more runs in the third as Irick drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Carson Morgan’s single to left. Morgan advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Hough’s broken bat infield single as Beckley started to clear his bench.
An inning later, CHS added its final run as William Spring drew a leadoff walk and later scored when Morgan was hit with the bases loaded to hike the lead to 8-0 in a bottom of the fifth which saw Camden leave the bases jammed as the Bulldogs were on the brink of closing this game out early via the 10-run rule.
Monday saw Beckley tinker with his batting order, moving Jordan from the nine hole into the second spot behind Irick to give his team a pair of speedsters at the top of the order. The move paid immediate dividends with the Dogs’ quick start.
"We played really well. We got off to a good start in the first inning with our first three batters getting three straight hits and, we didn’t hit a lull after that," Beckley said. "We didn’t score runs for a while but we were still hitting the ball … it was baseball that happened, not us going down.
"And all three of our pitchers pitched very well for us in this game."
Hough’s single in the fifth was the only time which the Dogs broke a bat in the game. That was a relief for Beckley and his team’s budget. But he does have a fairly ample supply of kindling for the fireplace if he needs it next winter.
"I think it helps us tremendously. It may not help us a whole lot this week but I think after this week, it really, really helps," he said of playing with wooden bats for the four-day event.
"We broke five or six bats in practice yesterday or, in BP (batting practice) today. It makes you have to be more balanced and it makes you more true at the plate. We believe the after-effects of this week will help us more than anything. That’s why we enjoy this wooden bat week."