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Baseball: North settles down late to take early-season tilt with Denmark
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North Forsyth's Anthony DiMola delivers a pitch during the Raiders' game against Denmark on Feb. 25, 2019 at Denmark High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

In a game that looked to be over, North Forsyth second baseman Tyler Triche bent his knees to get down to the level of an approaching low line drive, making the catch for the second out of the sixth inning. After allowing two bases-loaded walks, it was a welcome play for the Raiders, who still led Denmark by four.

Triche then threw the ball to shortstop miles Hartsfield, but he didn’t immediately give it back to the man on the mound, freshman Baylor Homesley. Instead, he walked over to second and tagged Denmark's Gray Wilson. The Raiders streamed out of the dugout in celebration of a completed hidden ball trick, but the umpires didn’t see it that way.

After the ensuing deliberation turned the play into a balk, head coach Jim Cahill threw his clipboard towards the dugout in frustration and was ejected for arguing. Coming off all that drama, North had to get back to the task at hand.

North (3-2), and especially a brand new school like Denmark (2-3), are still looking to see what their players are capable of and how they react to situations early in the early season. The Raiders’ young bullpen arms settled in and did enough to hang on to the lead, helping defeat the Danes 6-3 on Monday night. Although he wasn’t around to celebrate it, the win was the 300th of Cahill's career

“We started off the (sixth) inning throwing way too many balls with a big lead,” North assistant coach Kyle Counts said. “We've got to pound the strike zone and force them to put it in play. We didn't do a good job of that. That was our fault for letting it get that way.”

 “Our guys got a little bit riled up when we didn't get the call that we wanted, but we settled down and we were able to come out and finish the game,” Counts said.”

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Denmark’s youth and inexperience were evident right from the first inning. The Danes committed two errors in the opening frame, bringing Raiders leadoff hitter Garrett Staton around the bases to give North a 1-0 lead. It was just the beginning of the miscues -- Denmark ended its night with five errors.

“Any time you have more errors than hits, it's probably not going to turn out good for you,” Denmark coach David Smart said. “We're a work in progress, and we'll keep working and keep trying to get better.”

As the Raiders built up their lead to 4-0 with RBI hits from Hartsfield and Staton, North starter Anthony DiMola was locked in. He struck out eight in his 4 2/3 innings on the mound and earned the win. His success will be key to what the Raiders want to be able to do this season.

“I think we've got a good starting rotation,” DiMola said. “We've got a lot of guys in the pen, too. We can definitely hit, so I think we're pretty well-rounded.”

North had a 6-0 advantage entering the bottom of the sixth, when Denmark finally began to get runners across the plate, albeit with some help. The Danes began the inning with four straight walks, scoring JJ Corr from third with the bases loaded. Matthew Cassandra found his way home on another walk later in the inning, but even with a bases-loaded, no outs opportunity, the Danes’ bats couldn’t come through. They struck out 12 times on Monday, but as their first-ever season goes on, Denmark is hopeful they’ll see improvement at the plate.

“I thought we competed,” Smart said. “They helped us a lot and put us back in it and gave us a chance. When you get those chances, you've got to be able to capitalize. We didn't have any hits with runners in scoring position – that usually comes back and haunts you.”