What a difference a year makes.
The Whitehall baseball team opened its season last Thursday with a hard fought 4-3 loss to defending state champion Fort Ann.
Whitehall was paced by junior Brett Christian who pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run on six hits, while fanning seven batters.
Fort Ann scratched across the winning run in the bottom of the fourth inning with the game tied 3-3. Robert Sprague, who pitched a complete game in last year’s state championship, retired the last ten batters to seal the win for the Cardinals.
After several scoreless frames, Whitehall jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top half of the third inning.
Following a one out single by junior Codie Bascue, Luke Wescott was hit by a pitch and Josh Hoagland singled to load the bases.
Cleanup hitter AJ Ricketts drew a walk to plate the first run and Carl Rehm followed with a fly ball that was misplayed giving Whitehall a 2-0 lead.
Fort Ann battled back in the bottom of the third, scoring three unearned runs to take a 3-2 lead.
Whitehall answered back in the top of the fourth inning. Senior Jordan LaCroix singled and moved to third after Fort Ann misplayed Christian’s bunt putting runners on second and third with no outs.
Bascue then drive in the tying run on a fielder’s choice before Sprague shut the door on the Railroaders.
Afterwards head coach Jason Hoagland expressed satisfaction in his team’s play but admitted the errors cost them the game.
Although it counts as a loss, Whitehall showed considerable improvement since last year when the team lost both its meetings against Fort Ann by a combined score of 52-6.
The performance is even more impressive when you consider that the Railroaders have spent a grand total of one practice outdoors this season while Fort Ann has rolled out to a 3-0 record outscoring their opponents 57-2.
Whitehall opens league play at Bolton on Monday, April 25 and will host Argyle in their home opener on Wednesday, April 27.