March 19, 2013 10:55:03 PM
When New Hope High School senior right-hander Landon Boyd takes the mound, the Trojans don't have to make all the defensive plays.
However Tuesday night at Trojan Field, New Hope did just that anyway.
Behind Boyd's three-hit complete game and an errorless night in the field, New Hope cruised past Oxford 8-0 in the Class 5A, Region 2 prep baseball opener for both teams.
"On some nights, it is easy to pitch," Landon Boyd said. "This was one of those nights. The defense was incredible. They made play after play. It makes it a lot easier when you can concentrate on the batter and wherever he hits it, a play is going to be made."
While New Hope was also solid in the batter's box, all the dugout buzz postgame was the masterpiece turned in on defense.
Catcher Jake Hollis gunned down a batter, who apparently had laid down the perfect bunt. First baseman Tee Payne made two different acrobatic stabs to rob base hits. Right field Trae Collins added a standout catch in right field.
Shortstop Will Golsan preserved the shutout with a brilliant stop deep in the hole. Golsan also had half of his team's hits - with a four-hit night highlighting an eight-hit attack.
"We really have not practiced much here lately," New Hope coach Lee Boyd said. "We played in a tournament last week in Florida. We couldn't get outside Monday because of the rain. I was really worried about what type of effort we would have, just because we have gone so hard at it, without a practice day.
"Obviously, this was a very pleasing outcome. Defensively, we were really great. Not only was it an errorless game, there were some highlight plays in there, as well. The kids really responded and got region play off on the right foot."
New Hope (9-2 overall, 1-0 region) traveled during spring break to a tournament in Orlando, Fla. The event included a 6-0 loss to Pensacola Catholic, the nation's third-ranked team. New Hope then turned around and beat Gulf Breeze, 6-5.
"We went to a tournament last season in Memphis," Boyd said. "We may have been in a little over our heads in that tournament, too. We played some really good competition and it made us a better team in April.
"We are hoping the same thing holds true for this year's spring break trip. Against Pensacola Catholic, Landon gave up a two-run home run in the fifth inning and the score was only 3-0 when he left the game. I think we gained a lot of confidence from that game, even thought we lost. Then beating Gulf Breeze was a good confidence boost, too."
Boyd needed no such confidence boost Tuesday night. The New Hope veteran retired the first eight batters he faced and eventually faced only three batters on the minimum. The Chargers managed three hits - lone singles in three different at-bats.
"I had all three of my pitchers working and felt really good on the mound," Landon Boyd said. "We were really excited about finally being back at home and wanted to start region play off with a win. Will set the tone for us offensively, and I tried to do the same thing on the mound."
New Hope scored four runs in both the third and fourth innings. In the third inning, Rooke Coleman slapped a two-run double, while Peyton Lane rapped a two-run single.
In the fourth inning, two errors opened the door for the Trojans. Coleman again had a two-run base hit, while a bases-loaded hit batsman forced in a run and an error scored the other.
Joining Golsan in the multiple hit category was Coleman and Lane, each with two hits.
"We had some really good at-bats," Lee Boyd said. "It all started with Will and his four-hit night. When your lead-off man is on every time, it opens the door for some really big innings. Again, it is a situation where we have played a lot and not practiced a lot, so I really like what I saw out of the offense."
New Hope will look for more of that offense and defense when it travels to Oxford Friday night for another region contest.
"It will be a different game," Lee Boyd said. "We have developed quite a rivalry with Oxford. We know we will see a totally different opponent Friday night. They will be at home, scratching and clawing to make some things happen."
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter