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Kinslow single breaks tie, lifts Deerfield in state opener

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Deerfield-Windsor baseball coach Rod Murray didn't say anything to Banks Kinslow before he took the mound in the seventh inning with a one-run lead in Friday's GISA Class AAA State Tournament opener against third-ranked Bulloch Academy.

He knew he didn't have to say a word to his savvy senior, who had just given his team the lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.

Facing the middle of Bulloch's lineup, Kinslow retired three straight batters to give the host No. 2 seed Knights (15-7) a 7-6 win in Game 1.

"All of these coaches have been around Banks long enough to know that we don't have to say too much to him or these other guys," Murray said of Kinslow, who is also the school's star quarterback and shooting guard for the basketball team. "They get themselves ready to go and know how to act."

Kinslow, who will be the Game 2 starter at 12:30 p.m. today at DWS, had to face the heart of Bulloch's order in the top of the seventh.

"I was thinking that we can't give them any walks or free passes; we have to make them put the ball into play; we have to have solid defense behind me," said Kinslow about what he was going through his mind as he walked to the mound in the seventh inning.

All three of those things happened for the righthander, who started the game at shortstop.

DWS second baseman Matt Moree made a tough catch up the middle to get the first out and then made a back-handed stop on a sharply-hit ground ball for the second out. Kinslow then gave his squad the crucial Game 1 win by striking out the final batter. After the game, Murray said Kinslow wasn't fazed by having to face the 3-4-5 hitters of Bulloch's lineup.

"Banks has done a lot of good things at Deerfield," Murray said. "He expects good things to happen, and he is going to throw strikes and create some contact. He isn't going to run away from anything."

At the plate, Kinslow broke a 6-6 tie in the sixth inning with a single that scored Gil Gillespie. Also coming up big for the Knights with the bat were Lindsey Short (1-for-2, three RBI), Chris Moates (2-for-3) and Moree (1-for-2, two RBI).

Moates started on the mound for the Knights and was nearly unhittable through the first five innings. The right-hander with an unorthodox windup and delivery had 10 strikeouts and had allowed just one hit entering the sixth inning.

But then things started to fall apart for Moates, who walked three and hit one batter in the sixth inning. He also surrendered three hits and six earned runs in the frame before being replaced by Kinslow.

"I thought it was probably the best outing (Moates) has had all year," Murray said. "He had command of his pitches. (Bulloch) did a good job of fighting some off, and you have to give credit to them. We are pleased with his outing. He gave us a chance to win that game, and we won it."

Walker Blitch pitched a complete game for Bulloch (10-8), allowing nine hits and striking out three. Blitch had a one-hitter through the first three innings before the Knights scored three runs on him in both the fourth and fifth innings.

After he got done talking to his team following the loss, Bulloch coach Dennis Dove said the Gators will be ready for Game 2.

"It was a three-game series either way, and that's what I told our guys," he said. "You can't hang your heads or feel sorry for yourselves.

"You have to come out (today), get after them and force a Game 3."