Leesville Road opened its baseball season Tuesday evening by hosting one of the top teams in the state: Greenville’s D.H. Conley. The Vikings, behind senior pitching ace Phillip Sanderson and an 11-hit offensive attack, picked up the 8-3 win over the Pride.
Leesville coach Guy Civitello likes to throw a tough schedule at his team, and the trend will continue with a trip to Hillsborough to face a strong Orange team Friday.
Leesville lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, returning just three starters in left fielder Jimmy Cawley, center fielder Tomy Perrin and right fielder Derrick Barnes, who is playing shortstop this season. Just 20 innings of pitching experience returned for the Pride.
The loss probably didn’t discourage the Pride; they started last season 1-8 before winning 16 games in a row.
Conley got Leesville starter Will Wheeler for four runs on four hits in the top of the third, but Leesville came right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning against Sanderson, a Louisville recruit. Sanderson, who threw a complete game, took over the game in the fourth, striking out the side.
“After we scored, I felt like I lost my focus, but I regained it the next innings,” Sanderson said. “I think I threw harder and pitched better after they scored.”
They said it
“I like to challenge our team early, see where we’re at,” Civitello said of the schedule. “Plus it prepares us for a a pretty touch conference schedule. That was a very good team we just played. If Will throws like he did today, he’ll be fine. And Will Sandy is a sophomore left-hander who pitched. He’s just going to get better for us. With all we lost last year, we’ve just got to get the pieces together.”
Three to Know
Phillip Sanderson, Conley: He was just 3-2 last year in limited duty, but grew and improved over the summer. He gave up five hits and struck out 7 in the complete game win.
Derrick Barnes, Leesville: He had a single, a double, a sacrifice, and drove in two runs. He also played a solid shortstop for six innings and pitched one inning. “I think this team has the potential to come on and be good like last year,” Barnes said. “We just can’t make the errors.”
Will Wheeler, Leesville: He lost his control in the third and got roughed up for four runs, but in the other three innings, when his control was on, he showed he could compete against one of the best teams in the state.