DENHAM SPRINGS – One fateful third-inning ground ball went a long way in providing the difference between Denham Springs and Scotlandville in the District 4-5A baseball opener for both teams.
The inability of the Hornets to convert what could have been an inning-ending double play kept the door open, and the Yellow Jackets stepped through with six backbreaking runs on their way to a 12-2 victory Friday at A.B. Netterville Field.
Denham Springs, which extended its win streak to five, scored three unearned runs without an out in the bottom of the sixth to invoke the mercy rule.
“If they make a mistake, you have to make it hurt pretty bad, and when it did, it kind of opened up,” Denham Springs coach Mark Carroll said. “Once we got the lead, the kids settled in and got after them and competed and made some plays.”
Scotlandville (12-4) struck for a run in the top of the first when catcher DaVincent Hamilton (2-for-2, RBI) drove a one-out, full-count pitch deep to center field to score Rodrick Stewart from third base.
Denham Springs (15-5) responded in the bottom half of the inning with a pair of infield singles from Andrew Ayers and Carl Guidry, the latter which also included a two-base throwing error that allowed Ayers to tie the game.
Winning pitcher Brennan Batty (4-1) worked out of trouble in the third after Scotlandville loaded the bases with two outs.
Ninth-place hitter Jordan Ponds singled, and following two straight outs, Hamilton walked and Richard Stills was hit by a pitch. But Batty forced Melvin Butler to fly out to Ayers in center.
Batty (4-1) allowed seven hits, two runs (one earned), one walk and struck out six in a 98-pitch outing, 68 of which went for strikes.
“That’s kind of what I expected him to do and that was to come in and pretty consistent,” Carroll said. “Overall he’s been pretty solid for us and consistent.”
Hamilton threw out Ayers trying to steal second for the first out of the third inning when Guidry drew a walk.
Stewart then coaxed a ground ball to the shortstop side of second from Bryce Dugas, which Butler, one of four freshmen starters for the Hornets, wasn’t able to handle cleanly.
Instead of potentially getting out of the inning still tied at 1-all the Yellow Jackets, who batted around and scored four unearned runs, compounded the miscue with consecutive doubles from catcher Kaleb Clarke and first baseman Zach Borne to make it 4-1.
“We make the play at shortstop, and it’s a whole different game, we’re still in it, the momentum’s the same and the pitcher’s still feeling good,” Scotlandville baseball coach Darren Clark said. “We turn a double play and we get out of it. That was a big part of the game.”
A second error scored another run before Ayers (4-4, 3 RBIs) sent a liner off the top of Ryan Gooden’s glove at second and into right for a two-run single.
Denham Springs went on to finish with 12 hits and tacked on runs in the fourth on Borne’s RBI-single and Ayers’ solo homer in the fifth.
“We’ve been swinging it pretty good, and we put together a couple of good at bats right and got the separation,” Carroll said. “The kids got over the extra anxiety of a district opener and got to relax and get in some good swings and had a good win.”
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