New Hope baseball team sweeps series from Hernando

April 19, 2009



The New Hope High School baseball team wrapped up its opening round series in the Class 4A playoffs with Hernando in two games Saturday. 


New Hope (20-9) won game two 7-4 at Hernando on Saturday after winning the opener 6-1 at home Friday. 


If New Hope would have lost game two, the teams would have had to play the final game of the series Saturday. 


"It''s huge we didn''t have to play that second game today," New Hope coach Stacy Hester said. "We had pitchers ready to go, but you just never know when a team might get hot and beat you, so it was important to come in here and play just one game. With the threat of rain it looked like we might not play the second game and we didn''t want to come back up here Monday and play. Everything worked out fine for us." 


New Hope scored one run in each of the first two innings and two runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead. 


Hilton Gibson singled home the first run, and Jake Upton''s sacrifice fly gave the Trojans a 2-0 lead in the second. 


"I think we set the tone early in the game," Hester said. "Hilton came through for us again in the first (after homering in the first inning in the series opener). We built a 4-0 lead, which is pretty good in baseball, especially when Blake (Roberts) is pitching well." 


Roberts (9-2) pitched a complete game and scattered nine hits and struck out nine to get the victory. 


"Blake had a couple of starts where he struggled, but he pitched a great game," Hester said. "I didn''t have to use anyone else in relief. Blake pitched well. Blake got stronger as the game went on. Hopefully we''ve got our Blake back that we had seen the first two months of the season." 


After Hernando pulled to within 4-3, Philip Tice doubled home three runs in the seventh to make it 7-3. 


"A 7-3 lead instead of a 4-3 lead made all of the difference in the world," Hester said. "If we would have only had a 4-3 lead we could have lost the ballgame." 


Tice had a double and two singles, Gibson had two singles, and Will McReynolds, T.J. Upton, and Brent Younger each singled. 


"It was complete up and down the lineup," Hester said. "We had several guys do well." 


The series opener Friday was a nail biter until New Hope scored four runs in the sixth to make it 6-1. 


"It was good to see us come back and add to the lead because 2-1 is anyone''s game," Hester said. 


Jake Upton singled home Seth Stillman, T.J. Upton and Jake Upton scored when center fielder Justin Watts dropped a fly ball with the bases loaded, and McReynolds singled home Younger in the sixth. 


"Hats off to their hitters," Hernando coach Chris Chism said. "That was real timely hitting." 


New Hope spoiled a homecoming for Chism, who graduated from New Hope in 1992 and was one of Hester''s assistants from 1999-2006. 


It was the first time Chism coached against his alma mater since becoming Hernando''s coach in 2007. 


"Chris is a great coach," Hester said. "I hated to lose him. He was one of the best coaches I had helping me. He''s doing a great job at Hernando. 


"I had mixed feelings. You hate to compete against a friend. You want them to do well, but not when it''s against you." 


Dillon Hawkins (5-2) pitched a complete game for the Trojans. He only allowed singles to Zach Burk in the third and Hunter Groenevauld in fifth and struck out five. 


"Our pitching kept them in check," Hester said. "Dillon did just a masterful job. They wouldn''t have scored if we wouldn''t have committed an error. Dillon was in control, and he pitched great." 


Hernando scored its run in the fifth when Groenevauld singled, went to third on an error, and scored on a fielder''s choice by Trae Allison. 


Gibson gave Hawkins a 1-0 lead in the first with hit a towering home run over New Hope''s field house in left field. It was Gibson''s second home run of the season. 


Gibson also singled home Josh Ferguson in the third for a 2-0 lead. 


New Hope had seven hits, led by Gibson (home run, single). McReynolds, Jake Smith, Jake Upton, T.J. Upton, and Younger also singled.