By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
WEST POINT —
The average baseball player despises playing in frigid temperatures. Luckily for Good Hope, though, Nathan Doss is far from average and doesn’t mind the cold one bit. In fact, he revels in it.
Doss turned in the top performance of the 2013 Cullman County Baseball Tournament thus far on Wednesday, serving as a one-man wrecking crew with seven strikeouts in five innings on the mound, as well as three hits — one a two-run shot — and four RBIs at the plate, to lead the Raiders to a 7-2 victory over Holly Pond.
“I like the cold,” Doss said with a smile after the game. “It makes my arm feel good I guess.”
His coach, Mitch Witcher, was feeling pretty good, too, after watching Doss go beast mode in every facet of the game.
“Nathan had a great day,” Witcher said. “He’s a hard worker, and he puts in extra time on his hitting and pitching. We’re just happy for him, happy to get the win and move on.”
The finish of Day 3’s consolation-bracket matchup was a whole lot sweeter for Good Hope than the start. The Broncos quickly capitalized on a couple fielding blunders to take a 2-0 lead after two innings before the Raiders finally made a move in the bottom half of the following frame.
A.J. Peeples knocked in Good Hope’s first run and two more came in on a pair of errors, clearing the way for a two-run single from Doss to extend his squad’s lead to 5-2 after three innings.
“They helped us a little bit, but we were fortunate enough to capitalize on that,” Raider coach Mitch Witcher said.
Doss’ day had already been stellar after just two at-bats, but he found a way to put the cherry on top of it anyway, driving the second pitch of his third trip to the plate over the fence in left field.
Good Hope’s dual-threat weapon initially read double off the bat but realized he had slugged a home run when he noticed the left fielder’s reaction.
“When I saw the guy stop, I just wanted to slide into second for no reason,” Doss said. “It was exciting.”
Tyler Stringer gave up just one hit in two innings of relief for the Raiders, who advance to play Hanceville today at 4 p.m.
“It means we keep on going in the tournament,” Doss said of Wednesday’s outcome. “We’ve just got to come back next game and try to do better. We had too many errors today.”
Jacob Cahoon struck out seven Good Hope batters in 4 2/3 innings as Holly Pond’s starting pitcher. Carter Hays added another K while closing out the Broncos’ pitching duties.
Austin Hoffman, Tarrant White, Hunter Nelson, Mitchell Naler, Nathan Duke and Fidencio Vazquez all had one hit apiece for the Green and White.
% Vinemont 16, Cold Springs 10: The Eagles are still alive and well, but one fact was made perfectly clear on Wednesday night in West Point — this isn’t the Red and White baseball team of yesteryear.
The defending county champs, which only returned three varsity veterans from last year’s squad, spent the first four innings building a 13-3 lead, only to make enough mistakes and allow enough timely hits to let Cold Springs answer with seven runs over the following two frames.
“Right now, we’re young and inexperienced,” Vinemont coach Chad Shannon said. “We just lack focus all the way from first pitch to last pitch, and we’re trying to figure that out.”
Ty Jones K’d six in a complete-game effort for the Eagles. He added three RBIs at the plate, two of which came on a triple to the center-field fence in the fourth inning.
Lance Stanley had a productive day with two hits and three RBIs, as did Chasten Beck with two hits and two RBIs and Duncan Hopper with two hits and one RBI.
Other Vinemont contributors were Teddy Drake, one hit and two RBIs; Brock Heaton, one hit and one RBI; and Riley Foust and Sam Wood, one double each.
Austin Moore struck out three as Cold Springs’ starter and picked up as many hits at the plate. Tayne Rice also roped three hits for the Eagles to go along with one RBI. Zac Ellison had two hits and two RBIs, while Sam Knowlton pitched in one hit and two RBIs.
The Eagles (6-1) move on to face either Good Hope or Hanceville at 6 p.m. West Point and Fairview will open Day 4 at 2 p.m. looking to earn the first spot in Friday’s championship game.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.