Cleveland wasn’t itself on opening day of the high school baseball season. The Rams had a really rough day of practice the next day and all has gone right since.
Cleveland won its fourth straight game Tuesday night over nearby rival Garner 5-3. The Rams (4-1) have scored 35 runs during the four-game stretch, made a team-building trip for a one-day tournament at Cape Hatteras High and learned they can be a pretty good baseball team.
“The guys have bought into who we are and who they are,” Cleveland coach Jamie Lee said. “We’ve gotten four good starts from our pitchers during this stretch. From the guys in the top of the lineup to the guys coming off of the bench, they know their roles and they’re excited to contribute in their roles.”
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Cleveland created its working margin for starting pitcher Will Tetrault in the the third. Tetrault was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before Bobby Dixon scored on a passed ball. Seth Gooding plated another run on a sacrifice fly and Brennan Lindfield laid down a solid safety squeeze bunt to push the lead to 5-0.
“We’re making good pitches at times and competing really well,” Garner coach Derik Goffena said. “But the mistakes we’re making are costly. Four of their five guys who scored runs tonight reached on a walk or hit by pitch. You can’t do that against a good team like Cleveland and expect to get away with it.”
Garner’s runs came during the fourth – with back-to-back RBI doubles from Tyler Gillespy and Colin Pippin – and the the seventh: an RBI single by Xavier Bussey.
Three to Watch
Ryan Flores, Cleveland: The Lander (S.C.) recruit and Rams’ leadoff batter went 2-for-3 with a walk and stole a pair of bases.
Will Tetrault, Cleveland: He struck out nine Trojans batters and worked out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings with runners in scoring position.
Jack Elliott, Garner: He drew two walks, stole two bases and scored both Trojans runs.
By the Numbers
0: Upperclassmen (juniors or seniors) currently in any of the top three spots in the Trojans’ rotation right now. Tuesday night’s starter, Brett Banks, and Garrett Capaforte, both freshmen, are in the top two spots.
“This is my 15th year and this is the first time I’ve ever started a freshman and now we’ve got three underclassmen in our 1-2-3 pitching spots right now,” Goffena said. “We’re competing well.”
.321: Cleveland’s team batting average through five games. The Rams had just four strikeouts Tuesday.
Looking ahead: Cleveland has games with rivals West Johnston and Clayton this week, and Garner has games with Athens Drive and 3A power Hampstead Topsail.
“We’re still trying to find our lineup,” said Goffena, who just got Wellington Guzman back from the basketball team and was missing four-year varsity contributor Cody Jones in Tuesday night’s game because of an illness.