Christian Life Academy had the right formula to defeat its biggest rival Southern Lab 9-4 Thursday in District 6-1A baseball action at CLA.
Combining timely hitting with patience at the plate, the Crusaders drew 10 walks and another four free passes on hitbatsmen, along with no strikeouts. CLA scored six runs on three hits in the fourth inning to take control.
In contrast, Southern Lab batters drew six walks but struck out nine times as CLA senior Mike Stinson (3-4) worked magic with his curveball. Stinson struck out the side in the fourth inning.
“Mike Stinson’s offspeed stuff looked really good today,” CLA coach Jonathan Causey said. “This was a big win for us.”
Southern Lab (12-1, 2-1) came into the contest undefeated in district. CLA (12-9, 3-0) was in offensive attack mode from the beginning but did strand 11 base runners.
“I was proud of the guys at the plate,” Causey said. “We got the big hits when we needed them later in the game.”
Southern Lab sent three pitchers to the mound. Ronny Smith (2-1) took the loss.
“We just had some mental errors that led to some big innings for CLA,” Southern Lab coach Leroy Thompson said. “I thought Nathaniel Wicker pitched well as our closer.
“We knew we’d face adversity at some point in the season. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play them again.”
Southern Lab took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on Derrick Pate’s RBI single. CLA roared back with two runs in the bottom of the second. Trey Lewis had an RBI single, and Garrett Smith’s sacrifice fly drove in Daniel Fox, who singled.
Southern Lab starter Andre Green was chased after walking the first batter in the third inning.
CLA drew four walks in the six-run fourth inning. Senior center fielder Jacob Williams started the scoring with an RBI double. Cleanup hitter Davis Alford added an RBI single, and junior right fielder Jason Harris drove in three runs with a double. A Southern Lab error allowed the sixth run to score as the Crusaders led 8-1.
Southern Lab’s Curtlan Williams had an RBI single in the fifth.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Pate walked and stole second base. There was an error on a pickoff, and Pate, who leads the Kittens in stolen bases, continued running to home. Nate Wicker added an RBI single for the final margin.
Harris, who scored three runs, and Williams had two hits each. Sterling O’Bryant displayed good defensive skills at shortstop and second base for CLA. He threw out the side in the third inning.
“Sterling O’Bryant could play anywhere in the field for us,” Causey said. “He’s very versatile.”
Williams started at quarterback for CLA and is one of the faster players on the team. Causey said he likes having Williams as the No. 9 hitter because he’s a good fastball hitter.
“We need somebody down in the order who can hit,” Causey said.
Stinson scattered four hits with nine strikeouts in five innings. CLA junior Ken Caballero worked the final two innings.