The First Colonial baseball team had already looked dominant during its 9-0 start to the season entering Wednesday’s home tilt against Tallwood.
The Patriots hadn’t even shown their best.
Senior pitcher Justin Cook, dubbed one of the area’s best hurlers, didn’t make his first starting appearance until Wednesday. What a day he had.
Cook was in command of the plate from the mound and with the bat, throwing six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and hitting 2-for-3 with a team-leading three RBIs in an 8-1 win against the Lions.
First Colonial coach Scott Stubbe said Cook did “just a very good job of throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead, and challenging hitters.”
“I knew I wanted to get him starts before we get deeper into the season,” Stubbe said.
Cook had posted two saves in four relief appearances before Wednesday, while juniors Tommy Green (3-0, .52 ERA in 13 1/3 innings) and Nick Graziano (4-0, 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings) shouldered the starting responsibilities.
Cook’s outing Wednesday, in which he retired 11 consecutive batters between the second and sixth innings, was another reminder of how dangerous the Patriots’ pitching rotation can be as conference play heats up.
“It says a lot about all the pitchers on this team,” Stubbe said. “I got three guys that are pretty good starting for us.”
First Colonial’s bats were quiet and thrown off balance early against Tallwood starter Noah Geyer, scoring only one run through the first four innings.
They finally got to Geyer in the fifth for three runs off four hits. Cook, shortstop Chin Moss and Green recorded RBIs to give First Colonial a 4-0 lead.
The Patriots bats stayed hot in the sixth, when they scored four runs off five hits against Lions reliever Mark Smith. Right fielder Graham Firoved and center fielder Alex Giles notched RBI hits before Cook’s two-run single gave the Patriots an 8-0 lead.
First Colonial made up for a relatively slow offensive start by finishing with 15 hits and striking out just twice. Green, Giles and Graziano each had two hits and one RBI.
Stubbe said he was pleased with how his hitters adjusted in the fifth and sixth innings.
“We’re not always going to see somebody throw fastballs,” he said. “They had us off balance, but making that adjustment is a big little notch to be proud of.”
Geyer had the Patriots guessing from the plate before the hiccup in the fifth inning. The sophomore gave up four runs off nine hits in five innings. Smith allowed four runs off five hits in one relief inning.
The Lions scored their only run in the top of the seventh against Green (one run, three walks in one inning) when Chandler Howrey hit a sacrifice RBI that brought Jamal Bullard home. Tallwood left eight runners on base during the game.
First Colonial has outscored it’s opponent 85-25 in 10 games with five different starting pitchers earning wins. The Patriots’ ability to clinch victories in different ways has Stubbe’s group excited.
“It’s a group that has some experience and has been in some tough games before and that’s paying off right now,” Stubbe said. “If we throw strikes and play good defense we’re going to be in a of of games.”