New Hope beats rival Caledonia in region opener

February 25, 2009



CALEDONIA -- It may only be February, but the New Hope High School baseball team appeared to be in mid-season form Tuesday night. 


The Trojans scored early and often in beating Class 4A, Region 4 rival Caledonia 14-1 at Tommy Smith Field. 


New Hope (4-2, 1-0) scored three runs in both the first and seconds innings, six in the third and two in the fourth to win the game by the mercy rule after five innings. 


"I think it was a great win for us and an important win with them being a rival and a district opponent," New Hope coach Stacy Hester said. "We started off well this year winning the opening two, but then we lost two of three. We made mistakes in those so we wanted to get back after it tonight." 


Hester expressed concern going against Caledonia ace Tyler Pounders as his 15-strikeout, complete-game win against the Trojans last season still loomed. 


"He put us in a hole last year," Hester said of Pounders. "I thought we did a better job at-bat tonight than during those last games. We got 10 hits and kept people on base. We got the big hits tonight to keep the pressure on them." 


Caledonia (0-4, 0-1) managed to notch a run in the bottom of the first when Pounders doubled and scored on a wild pitch. 


The Confederates did not get another runner past second base. 


New Hope had 10 hits, led by designated hitter Tyler Shepherd with two hits and four RBIs. 


New Hope second baseman Phillip Tice also had two hits, both RBI singles. 


The Trojans also stole six bases and took advantage of six Caledonia errors, leading to 11 of their runs. 


New Hope chased Pounders after just 2 2/3 innings, tagging him for 12 runs (three earned) and eight hits. 


"We just kept the pressure on them," Hester said. "When we have runners on the corners we''re going to do double steals. Coming into tonight we hadn''t had much success scoring so we were trying to manufacture runs and that''s what we did." 


New Hope starter Blake Roberts cruised on the mound with the lead as he pitched three innings and allowed just one run on two hits to earn the win. 


Jake Smith came in relief and allowed one hit in two innings. 


"Blake''s emerged as our No. 1 pitcher since he was a sophomore last year," Hester said. "He''s still not where we want him to be, yet, but he''s solid." 


New Hope returns to district action when it travels to Kosciusko on Friday night, while Caledonia will host Neshoba Central on Friday. 


Dillon Hawkins (1-0) is expected to take the mound for the Trojans. 


Caledonia coach Sam Adams declined comment following the game and did not announce a starter.