LAUREL HILL — Don’t tell the Laurel Hill School baseball team that it doesn’t pay to steal — bases that is.
Eight stolen bases by the Hoboes played a key role in all five of Laurel Hill runs in a 5-1 win over Poplar Springs in the District 1-1A opener Monday.
While steals sparked the Laurel Hill offense, it was senior Tyler Grezlik’s pitching that kept the Atomic bats silent throughout the game.
Grezlik worked 6-1/3 innings before being replaced by Bryson Cooper with two runners on base in the seventh. Cooper, an eighth-grader, retired the final two batters, sealing the Laurel Hill (1-2, 1-0) win.
“We were able to run a little bit, but we’ve got to hit the ball better,” Laurel Hill coach Ronnie Smith said. “I thought Grezlik got out there and battled all night long. I was real proud of his effort.
“Like I said, we kind of manufactured a few runs stealing it and they threw a couple of ways (that led to Laurel Hill runs).”
In a scene that would be repeated for the Hoboes throughout the game, Max Smith drew a one-out walk from Atomic pitcher Blake Joiner in the bottom of the first inning.
Smith proceeded to steal second base and then the third base before scoring on a passed ball.
The Atomics (0-4) tied the game with their lone run in the top of the third, but the tie didn’t last long.
Grezlik scored the second Laurel Hill run in the third inning when he walked, stole second and was sent home on a Smith base hit.
Garrett Alford’s two runs were carbon copies of each other.
Alford walked in the fourth inning, stole second and third and scored on a Joiner error on a pick off attempt.
The scenario repeated itself in the sixth inning.
In between the two Alford scores, in the fifth inning, Cody Barnhill walked, stole second and scored on a Grezlik double.
Laurel Hill tried to rally for an extra run with two out in the sixth, when Ben Perez and Clay Barlow had back-to-back singles, but the Hoboes couldn’t score.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524