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Denton’s bat hot, but Mavs stop HVA

Jake Denton feasted on fastballs against his former youth baseball teammate Monday evening.

Denton, Hardin Valley Academy junior shortstop, smacked a solo home run plus a pair of doubles against Anderson County tall lefty pitcher Taylor Durand March 21 at HVA.

“I was sitting fastball; I've known that kid … played with him at The Yard since I was 9 and 10, played with him forever,” Denton said about Durand, who went the distance and led his Mavericks to a 4-3 District 3-AAA victory. “I was just sitting fastball and he gave it to me.”

Denton's success aside, he was stranded at third base to end the game Monday, a scenario the Hawks are all too familiar with after four games (1-3, 0-3 in district).

In three one-run losses, including a pair at Karns last week, “We've had the tying or winning runs on base” in the final inning of each game, HVA head coach Kirk Renegar said.

About the three one-run losses, Denton said, “We're struggling a little bit right now, but we're hitting the ball well and we're fielding it great, so eventually we'll start winning some games.”

Renegar said Denton “had a whale of a day, did an outstanding job for us. I wish the wind would have blown a little harder on a couple of those doubles.”

Starting pitcher and staff ace Nathan Richardson “got better as the game went along. He was a little shaky coming out,” Renegar said.

Richardson, a senior, allowed one run and four hits in four innings before giving up three runs in the sixth inning, which erased a 3-1 Hawks lead. A walk, double, bloop hit to left field and two infield bunt singles did the damage.

A Mavericks baserunner who scored appeared to be nailed at home plate, but the throw short-hopped catcher Tanner Russell and the ball squirted away.

“They had a couple of bunts that they couldn't have rolled the ball out there better,” Renegar said, adding his team's “relay game,” outfield-to-infield execution, “really, really hurt us. It was not one of our better games defensively.”

Going six innings, Richardson allowed eight hits, two walks and one hit-batter with six strikeouts.

“I think after the first inning, after I got over the jitters of coming out and pitching again after a rough performance last week, I think that I really just settled down and got control of my change-up and curve ball,” Richardson said. “I think I just really commanded my pitches real well there until the end.”

Going beyond his normal pitch count of roughly high 80s to low 90s, Richardson said he threw 106 pitches Monday yet “felt really good, my arm felt good” through the sixth inning.

“I was really surprised, after throwing as many pitches as I did last week,” he added.

Behind Denton's offense, the Hawks built its 3-1 lead.

Zach Ahmad and Ben Barnett each singled for the Hawks, with Barnett scoring in the second inning on Clay Williams' sacrifice fly. Along with Denton's second-inning homer, it was 2-1 HVA.

Denton scored Hardin Valley's third run in the fifth after his first double. Reaching third on a fly-out, the senior shortstop scored on a balk.

One nice defensive play came from right fielder Elliott Whitt, who made a shoestring catch of a sinking line drive in the sixth inning preventing further damage.


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