WARRENSBURG - In a pitching battle between sophomores, reining Adirondack League champions Lake George beat Warrensburg 7-1.
Warrior pitcher J.D. Jenkins struck out seven and allowed four hits in the game that is one step away from a goal that Lake George players have been eyeing since pre-season: a repeat league championship. Promising Burgher sophomore hurler John Joseph allowed four earned runs in the Monday game.
"I am absolutely amazed by our sophomore pitchers," Warrior Coach Erik Hoover said, noting that Jenkins is 3-0 and Jack Clark has 42 strikeouts this year in five games.
Jenkins had some help Monday from a teammate bearing the same moniker: J.D. DeWaard, who was 3-for-4 with three RBIs Cameron Jones also batted in three runs.
The Warrior team, experienced and tough with 11 seniors, had both stingy defense and productive offense from the elder crew. Senior Jake Nelson hit a triple and senior Toby Noble hit a double in the effort, and ace pitcher Peter Gaibrois finished up DeWaard's successful game, stepping in for the seventh inning.
And now, having wrapped up the Adirondack League west division title with a 12-1 league tally, the Warriors face Fort Ann Friday for the Adirondack League championship in a 4:15 p.m. game at Moreau Recreation field.
"We expect another epic battle," Hoover said, referring to the April matchup when Lake George beat Fort Ann 15-14. "We have to keep their bats quiet - We definitely aim to defend our crown Friday."
Hoover noted it will likely be difficult, as Fort Ann has recorded double-digit scores in 10 of their 13 games in 2009.
The Warriors have the talent, experience and pitching depth to accomplish their goal, however. Leading off the pitching roster is Peter Gaibrois, who's renowned for keeping hits to a minimum.
The Warrior firepower, however, is just as consequential. Consider leadoff batter Ryan Lynch, who's batting .418 and leading the team with 33 hits this season as of Monday. Then there's Jake Nelson, who's slugged 10 home runs for 2009, backed up with 24 RBIs and an overall batting average of .324. The remainder of the roster isn't far behind.
Burgher Coach Rex Reynolds said he was pleased with his team's performance Monday as they stayed competitive in this second matchup with the Warriors. The prior game with Lake George was a 27-0 blowout.
"We tightened up our play - our defense was better, and we keep their hitters off balance better than the first game with Lake George."
Kory Russell stepped up offensively three for three with one run scored. Kory hit three of the team's four hits.
Reynolds said sophomore pitcher John Joseph put a competent performance, mixing a good fastball, curveball and changeup well.
"Joseph did a nice job for us," Coach Rex Reynolds said. "He pitched a complete game and never got into serious trouble."
In the game, the odd-numbered innings were productive on offense for Lake George. In the first, third and fifth innings, Lake George scored two hits each, finishing off with one in the seventh.
The Burghers play Corinth on Wednesday. Although having recorded a 6-3 victory against Corinth several weeks ago, the Burghers will have a challenge as the Tomahawks' No. 1 pitcher Justin Millington was expected to be on the mound. Millington handed Lake George their only loss of the season May 6 in a four-hitter. That game is followed by a non-league contest at noon Saturday at East Field against Greenwich.
Next week is likely to include two games to provide a tune-up for the Sectional tournament, which begins May 28.
Lake George is expecting a bye for the first round of the Sectionals, but gearing up for the second.
Hoover said the team's success depends on keeping up the defensive abilities the team has developed in recent weeks.
"Our defense has vastly improved since the beginning of the season," he said. "If we want to achieve our goal of a deep run in Sectionals, it will be our defense that carries us."