Patriots out to smashing start

  • Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rob Gantt/Journal Scene Teammates wait to congratulate Fort Dorchester senior Malik Grant as he makes his way to the plate after hitting a three-run homer Thursday.

The Patriot baseball team is out to a 5-1 start this season.

Fort Dorchester defeated Spring Valley in a preseason tournament where it also ended two games cut short due to weather in a tie. In the regular season, Fort Dorchester has swept Johnsonville, earned a win at Battery Creek and split a pair of games with Hanahan.

The team entered this season with some experience on the hill and some power at the plate.

“We have a good nucleus returning from last year,” Fort Dorchester coach Jack Radcliffe said. “We only lost the Jones brothers and Ryan Boyle. However, we are still relatively young. I’m hoping that with the group we have, we will be competitive in the region the next couple of years and make a run or two in the playoffs.”

Senior Corey Rawlings will be key to this year’s campaign and is off to a sound start. Rawlings threw a no hitter against Spring Valley and improved his pitching record to 3-0 Thursday as the Patriots defeated Hanahan 9-5. He struck out 11 batters while only surrendering two runs in five innings of work.

Senior Josh Murray is 1-1 on the hill this year. Sophomore Ryan Thomas has the other pitching win for the Patriots.

Rawlings also has the team’s best batting average. Freshman Drew Yniesta has the best on-base percentage for the team.

The Fort already has four homeruns on the year. Designated hitter Malik Grant has two while Eurndraus Bryant and Cody Meree have one each. Bryant had several homers in the first half of last season.

The Patriots have 10 returning lettermen on the team, but on many nights they will only start three seniors in the field while starting two freshmen and a sophomore.

When Rawlings is pitching the infield is typically comprised of Meree at first, Yniesta at second, Garett Blakeley at short, Murray at third and Thomas catching. All played for the varsity last season except Blakeley.

When Rawlings isn’t on the hill, he will see some action at shortstop.

Four players will see most of the time in the outfield: Bryant, Myles Snype, Clayton Nestor and Mike Maiorelle. With the exception of Nestor, they all saw action last season.

Others vying for playing time this season include Jonathan Rouse, Matt Maiorelle, Austin McClung, Kyle Long, Matt Ticer, Joel Stein, Aaron Barnes, Gary Grear and Bradley Hirt.

The Patriots open region play by hosting Beaufort Wednesday and travel to Ashley Ridge Friday.

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