When it’s time to face a big rival, it’s nice to give the baseball to a pitcher like Derek Casey.
“Having him pitch definitely boosts the confidence of his teammates,” said Hanover head coach Charlie Dragum.
Casey pitched five shutout innings, allowing his Hawk colleagues time to generate offense, pulling away for a 9-2 win at Atlee Tuesday night to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
A senior commit to the University of Virginia, Casey shut out the Raiders for five innings, before yielding to Thomas Renfro, who picked up the save. Atlee starter Collin Bazemore took the loss, giving up three runs over 3 1/3 innings.
Hanover’s key inning was the fourth. Ahead just 1-0, the Hawks generated four runs to break the game open. Josh Shepherd’s squeeze bunt scored Hayden Moore to make it 2-0. Then Cayman Richardson doubled to score Anthony Zona. After two walks by Atlee reliever Cody Thompson loaded the bases, Trevor Denton’s single to center scored Shepherd and Richardson. In a matter of minutes, the lead was 5-0.
“We have to really work this season. We work for a run an inning, that’s our goal,” Dragum explained. Now, if we can get some separation like we did tonight, then we can swing the bats a little more.”
Hanover added a run in the fifth when Hayden Moore scored on a Shepherd single. Atlee’s best hope to cut into the lead came in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with one out. But Casey got Andrew Simpson to ground back to the mound for a force out at home, then struck out Thompson to end the threat.
The Raiders (1-2) managed single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, while the Hawks added their final two runs in their half of the seventh.
Casey improves to 3-0 himself. The only game he hasn’t started so far was the Caroline game March 25 suspended by snow in the fourth inning. But lest Hawks fans believe it’s all about Casey, Dragum says not so fast.
“We have up to 10 arms that I feel confident about starting at any time in any situation,” Dragum noted, pointing to Renfro, Denton, who had quality time on the mound during last season’s run to the Group AAA State Championship, Moore, and Grey Lyttle among others.
That will come as little comfort to Conference 20 opponents, and in the 4A South Region in general, as the Hawks begin a run at back-to-back state titles.
Hanover returns home Friday evening to face Henrico before hosting Great Bridge Saturday at 2 p.m. for an exhibition game held as part of the Hanover High Community Festival. All proceeds from the game will benefit the Heather James Medical Fund. Tickets will be $5.
The game is part of a wide range of activities including a silent auction, kids events and a performance by the Hanover Theatre Group. The day begins with the Second Annual Hawks 5K Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. Call (804) 723-3750 for more information.