LAURINBURG — The Scotland baseball team enjoyed a successful beginning to the Chad Hill era Tuesday night, as the Scots cruised to a 10-3 victory over Overhills in the regular-season opener.
Scotland (1-0) had little trouble dispatching the visiting Jaguars, scoring the game’s first five runs and tallying five more after Overhills closed the gap to 5-2 in the fourth inning.
Hill, who was hired from Union Pines in August to replace former coach Jamie Coleman, said after the win that he was pleased with his players’ demeanor and focus.
“Tonight I thought that they had a lot of opening-day enthusiasm and the intensity was awesome, so I was very proud of them and the coaching staff was very proud of how they brought their A-game tonight,” Hill said.
Three coaches — Hill, Michael Sellers and Freddy Suggs — and more than half of the roster made their varsity debuts against Overhills. Scotland also showcased its newly-constructed press box, which served as a metaphoric backdrop for the program as it introduces a new age of Scots baseball.
Scotland opened the scoring with four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take the early lead. After Matthew Hyatt and Zac Phillips reached base, Davon Ratliffe plated Hyatt with a two-out single to left field to score the game’s opening run. Then, leadoff batter Cross Holfert drilled a pitch from Overhills’ Jerry Jacobs, powering it over the right-centerfield wall for a three-run home run.
Hill said Ratliffe’s hit in the nine-hole was key to keeping the inning alive, setting up Holfert’s bomb during the next at-bat.
“The coaching staff preaches to these young guys that the six through nine guys turn it over to the top of the order, and very good teams are successful down at the bottom of the order and are not an easy out,” Hill said. “Davon had a great at-bat in the nine-hole, then all of a sudden Cross did what a senior should do.”
Holfert, who is committed to play for the University of South Carolina Lancaster next year, manned the leadoff spot in Tuesday’s contest after batting in the middle of the order last year. Hill said Holfert’s ability to set the tone at the top of the lineup was a big reason why the senior started there to open the season.
“We have eight guys on our team where this is their first varsity game, not counting three of the coaches that are our first game,” Hill said. “We have a young team, in essence, and we feel like Cross can set the table.”
The Scots extended their advantage to 5-0 in the bottom of the third when Justin Bower hit a sacrifice fly to plate Donta Green.
But Overhills (0-1) threatened to get back into the game with two runs in the top of the fourth inning. Tanner Myatt drove in two runs with a single through the middle of the Scots infield to plate Jacobs and River Neighbors. Tyrin McRae followed with a single, then Trevor Brown hit a fly out to first.
Scotland’s Nic Charleson dug himself into a jam when he hit Jacob Radford with a pitch to load the bases, but he redeemed himself by striking out the Jaguars’ next batter, Jacob Deacon, to get out of the inning.
Justin Ray notched an RBI in the fifth inning, then the Scots tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to all but clinch the win. An Overhills throwing error at first base allowed Ratliffe to score, then after a Jaguars miscue at second base, Holfert crossed the plate. Brandon Jacobs capped the inning with an RBI groundout to plate Terrance Davis.
Overhills added its final run in the top of the seventh when Brown reached home after getting on base with a walk.
Scotland returns to the diamond Thursday to play on the road at Seventy-First.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.