YORK — The Bay Rivers District baseball season opener between Jamestown and Grafton always figured to be a statement game. Not only are they two of the preseason district favorites, but the pitching matchup featuring North Carolina State-bound Kent Klyman of Jamestown and Virginia recruit Evan Sperling of Grafton was marquee.
On a 75-degree afternoon, Jamestown made a statement with its 5-0 victory on Grafton's field. As much as anything, the Eagles served notice that their perennial slow starts to the season are a thing of the past.
They did so behind the left arm of 6-foot-6 Klyman, who gave up only an infield single in 4 2/3 innings. And they did it at the plate with two extra-base hits from Evan Lowery and a well-executed safety squeeze bunt that scored him.
There was good fielding, too, most notably on a pair of niftily handled slow rollers by Michael Schmidt at third base. But the Eagles turned a double play as well, and the outfielders, none of whom had fielded flies in the outfield to date because of the weather, made some potentially difficult fly balls look routine.
"You win or lose games on small-ball and being able to execute on the defensive side," Jamestown coach Mike Kuebler said. "The defense was awesome."
He didn't need to say how effective Klyman was. That was evident by just how little solid contact the Clippers made against him, and that they did not advance a runner past second base.
"I was just trying to locate a lot with my fastball," Klyman said. "And whenever Coach (Mike) Powers called off-speed, I just tried to keep it down and not let anything get over the plate, because they have a lot of good hitters on their team.
"I love the spotlight. Facing what might be one of the best pitchers in the state of Virginia, I was excited and my adrenaline was going the whole game."
The pitching duel proceeded as expected through two innings, as Sperling struck out five Eagles. But the Eagles slowly seized control following Lowery's triple to right field in the top of the third.
"He's a stud, and there's a reason he's going to U.Va.," said Lowery, who is leaning toward playing at the Naval Academy. "He's a competitor and I'm a competitor, and I just wanted to go out and do my best and show people what Jamestown baseball is really all about."
One thing the Eagles are about is the bunt, and Garrick Colorado drove in Lowery with the perfectly executed safety squeeze to make it 1-0. The Eagles went up 2-0 in the fourth, when Klyman walked with one out. Klyman's courtesy runner, Christopher Jones, advanced two bases on Sperling's errant pickoff attempt and scored on Roger Romero's groundout to second.
Jamestown catcher Kevin Mooney doubled to start the fifth, before Sperling's day ended when he hit Matt Bochain. Following a double-steal, Schmidt drove in Mooney's courtesy runner, Brad Vandygriff, and Bochain with a single up the middle stretch the lead to 4-0.
An insurance run and Colorado's solid two-inning relief pitching effort clinched the Eagles first win over Grafton in several years.
"We have a good feeling about this year, and I think we started off very good against a very good team," Lowery said. "We know we've been starting slowly a lot, and when we saw Grafton as the first game we thought we could make a big statement.
"I think we did make a big statement."
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.
JAMESTOWN 5, GRAFTON 0
Jamestown: 001, 112, 0 – 5 6 1
Grafton: 000, 000, 0 – 0 2 2
Standouts: Jamestown, Lowery 2-4 (double, triple), Schmidt 1-3 (2 RBI). Records: Jamestown 1-0, 1-0; Grafton 0-1, 0-1.