The Mathews High School varsity baseball season started off rough even before the opening pitch. The team lost four of its starters to injuries and other circumstances, leaving coach Nick Naglieri no choice but to call up jayvee players Austin Kemp, Chris Perreault and Deondre Foster.
"It’s one thing to bring up jayvee players and ask them to fill in, but another to ask them to fill in and play out of position, but I am proud of the way they have responded. They have done everything we have asked plus some," Naglieri said.
Mathews traveled to Essex to take on the Trojans for the team’s season opener last Thursday, which ended in the Devils losing a 5-4 nail-biter. Mathews took the lead in the third when Perrault scored on a double by Chris Davis. The Trojans answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the third. Essex would take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
MHS scored three in the top of the seventh. It started off with singles by Davis and Daniel Mitchem, followed with doubles by Nick Stump and Tyler Roberts. The Trojans answered with a few runs of their own, taking the lead and the win in the bottom half of the inning off a game-winning double that plated three runs. Roberts pitched, going 62/3innings giving up four runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks, striking out four. Stump took the loss, giving up one run on one hit. Leading the offense were Davis (2-for-3), Mitchem (2-for-4), Stump (2-for-3, two doubles), Roberts (1-for-3) and James Pavik (2-for-3).
The Devils took a road trip to Nandua Saturday, losing another heartbreaker, 14-10. History repeated itself as MHS gave up a late game lead for the loss. Nandua jumped out to an 8-2 after three innings. Mathews would narrow the margin, scoring four in the fourth off hits by Foster, Davis, Mitchem, Roberts, and Chase Kemp. The Devils pulled ahead in the sixth inning after Mitchem and Stump both walked, followed by hits from Chase Kemp, Pavik, and a big double by Austin Kemp.
Nandua scored six more runs in the bottom of the sixth to retake the lead for good. Stump pitched the entire game for Mathews, giving up 14 runs, six earned. "Our inexperience showed today, but our bats are looking good and once our defense buckles down, things will look good," Naglieri said.