North Clayton blanks Blue Devils

By Jeffery Armstrong

Senior pitcher Shawn Christian had a good game on the mound and at the plate Friday night, helping the North Clayton Eagles baseball team burn the Avondale Blue Devils 9-0 at North Clayton High. The Eagles are now 2-0 on the season.

Christian pitched a complete-game three-hitter, with three walks and 10 strikeouts, and made big pitches to get out of jams. In fact, Christian ended five of the seven innings he pitched with a strikeout. He also helped himself at the plate Friday night, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk.

"I didn't even know I was going to pitch tonight, but I was ready anyway," Christian said. "I was confident that I would do well and my teammates did a good job backing me up. If we keep our momentum going, we can go far – I think we can even make the state playoffs."

North Clayton took the lead early against Avondale and wasn't truly threatened. In the first inning, Eagles' left fielder Anthony Bowden walked, stole second and third and scored North Clayton's first run on a groundout by Jamal Moreland. Christian doubled and scored on a double by catcher Anthony Grissom. Christian stole third and then scored on a groundout by Travell Williams for a quick 3-0 lead.

Christian had a no-hitter after three innings but Avondale's Antonio Scott broke it up with an infield single to short in the top of the fourth and North Clayton leading 4-0. Scott then stole second and advanced to third on the bad throw from Grissom. Avondale relief pitcher Greg Boyd walked and also stole second, giving Avondale its best chance to score. After a strikeout, Avondale's Steven England grounded to Eagles first baseman Rosendo Galvan, who stepped on first for the second out and threw a bullet to home to force Scott out at home and preserve the shutout.

Williams' two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning was part of a four-run inning to make the score 8-0. The Eagles had a chance to run-rule Avondale in the bottom of the fifth, when they had two on base with two outs. Galvan had a chance to end the game early, but his line-drive grounder was caught by Boyd, who threw to first to end the inning. Dray Blanton scored the game's final run on a wild pitch.

Grissom was perfect on the evening Friday, going 2-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored. He walked twice and also threw out a runner at second base to end the third inning.

"I just wanted to keep my eye on the ball and hit a good shot tonight," said Grissom, who moved to catcher this year from third base.

Eagles head coach Chris Taylor was proud of his team, even though they didn't hit the ball as well as he would've liked. North Clayton had eight hits, but the team stranded nine runners on base.

"I'm glad we won, but we still have a lot of work to do," Taylor said. "Defensively, we are going to be good; we just have to work on our offense."