By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
MANAGER Darren Stevens liked what he saw from his C&S Hitmen in game one of their New Providence Softball Association men’s best-of-five championship series at the Baillou Hills Sporting Complex on Saturday night.
Veteran Edney ‘the Heat’ Bethel was in vintage form, spinning a three hitter with 16 strikeouts and designated player Hosea Hilton and pinch hitter Rudy Fox came through with a pair of clutch hits to seal the deal.
Those performances enabled C&S to pull off a close 3-1 victory over the Cyber Tech Blue Marlins to snatch the initial lead in the series that will continue with game two at 9pm on Tuesday night.
“This was a hard-fought game. We didn’t expect anything less,” Steven said. “Edney did his job, He came out with 16 strikeouts and we were able to muster a few runs. That was all we needed.”
The Hitmen didn’t score until the bottom of the second when they pushed a pair of runs across home plate from right fielder Edron Knowles and left fielder Martin Burrows Jr, thanks to a two-run single from Hilton.
Losing pitcher Thomas Davis held their bats in check until the sixth when Fox came in to pinch hit for Bethel. He ripped a shot to right-centre field for a lead off triple.
But after he failed to score on Sherman Ferguson’s fly ball to centre field, Stevens brought Johnson back to run for Fox. On a wild pitch, he managed to race home with their insurance run.
“We just have to be consistent and cash in on the runs when we need them,” said Stevens as they needed the run on Fox’s stand up triple that saw Johnson scoot home.
“We have to be able to score the runs and cash in on when the opportunities arise. But once our defence stays steady and our pitching is steady, we should be able to pull off the win.”
Davis ended up giving up four hits with eight strikeouts.
The Blue Marlins drew first blood, scoring their only run in the top of the second when with one-out, catcher Garfield Bethel got a single off Bethel.
After moving up to second on a wild pitch, Bethel eventually scored from second on a passed ball.
Cyber Tech blew a pair of scoring opportunities after that, the first coming in the fourth as right fielder Winston Seymour got a lead off double, but was left stranded as C&S got the next three batters out.
Then in the seventh with one out, left fielder Lamar Watkins singled, stole second and reached third in a ground out, but Bethel struck out second baseman Stephen Russell to end the game.
As they prepare for game two on Tuesday, Stevens said there’s no doubt that their ace Alcott Forbes, who started at third base, will be on the mound for the Hitmen.
“We are looking for the same hard-fought effort from them from that aspect of the game, but they will have to do it against our ace Alcott Forbes,” Stevens said.
“It’s no secret, he will get the ball.
“So as long as we stay consistent like we did tonight (Saturday), we will be alright.”
The Marlins, with Marcus Pratt handling the managerial chores, are expected to counter with Eugene Pratt on the mound. Pratt played third base in game one.