FAYETTEVILLE — Fielding mistakes put the Scots behind early on Monday, and Terry Sanford’s pitching kept them there as the Bulldogs won 8-5 in Scotland’s season-opener.
Scotland, which was playing its first game of the season after numerous weather delays, found itself in a 4-0 hole after three innings. The Scots scraped their way back into it, making it 4-3, but then the Bulldogs doubled their score and held off one final rally from the visitors to come away with the win.
The home team scored twice in the second inning when Cole Brown and Jayson Lagusis crossed home plate after pitches bounced in the dirt and out of the reach of Scotland catcher Sam Gray. Trey Davis singled to center field in the next inning to drive Austin Warren home from second base. Davis would steal second and third base before scoring to make it 4-0 on another missed pitch.
Terry Sanford used three pitchers to pick up the win. Andrew Henrickson got the start on the mound and was dominant for most of the game. He collected eight strikeouts through 4 and 2-3 innings, while walking only three and giving up four hits.
Scotland was held hitless by the senior Henrickson until Nolan Pierce singled to right field in the fourth frame. His hit seemed to bring the bats to life, as Grant English followed that up with a single of his own and Cross Holfert hit a two-run double to deep center field.
Holfert would score himself a few moments later while Gray was caught in a rundown between first and second base. It looked like Gray would be caught, but the ball bounced past the second baseman’s glove and into the outfield, letting Gray reach the base safely and Holfert score the third run for Scotland.
Henrickson, who was making his second start of the year, said he relied mostly on his fastball to get the strikeouts, but also threw a few curveballs in to confuse batters.
“It went pretty well, until the fourth when I stopped throwing strikes,” Henrickson said.
Justin Walke came in for Henrickson and struck out two while giving up one hit. Then Davis came and closed out the game.
The Bulldogs never trailed, as they scored two runs in each inning between the second and the fifth. The Scotland pitching was able to slow the bats of the home team, but wild pitches into the dirt and fielding errors led to several runs being scored. Of the eight the Bulldogs sent home, three were earned, and Scotland committed five errors.
Junior Christian Bethea was the starting pitcher for Scotland, and he lasted 2 and 1/3 innings, striking out two and walking another, before being pulled for Justin Ingram. Ingram recorded two outs before Dylan Ward came in and threw for the rest of the game.
Scotland coach Jamie Coleman said he had been thinking about giving Bethea the start for a while.
“(Bethea) is very competitive and the only lefty on the staff. He’s got some good stuff and he’s going to have to play in tough ball games,” Coleman said. “We’ve got several starters. Every kid we have I feel confident in him giving us a good effort and a quality inning early and late in the game. Christian’s problem tonight was he got behind in the counts and his pitch count got up a little bit.”
The pitching had a good game overall, Coleman said, but the fielding has to be there to back it up.
“If we just field it and don’t give them any extra outs we’re fine. In a seven inning game you get 21 (batters) and we gave them about 30 tonight, so that’s always going to hurt you. You’ve got to beat the game of baseball and we didn’t do that tonight,” Coleman said.
Terry Sanford improves to 1-3 with the win, while Scotland is 0-1. Both teams will be back at it again today at 5 p.m. at Scotland. Monday’s game was originally scheduled for March 4, but cold weather and then a few days of rain forced that game, and two more on Scotland’s slate, to be postponed or canceled.
Coleman said the team was eager to finally play a game after so many delays.
“We were very excited and anxious, and for the most part we competed well. We put the ball around the yard. I’m proud of these guys for the way they battled and came back. We’ve got work to do but I’m very proud of the way we competed,” Coleman said.
Pierce was the leading hitter for Scotland as he went 3 for 4 at the plate. Ward also recorded two hits on four appearances.
For Terry Sanford, Davis and Lagusis each scored two runs apiece. Davis went 1-4 at the plate and drove in another run in the third inning, while Lagusis was hit by a pitch and walked in the game.