04/27/08 — Faith Christian easily defeats foe Mt. Calvary

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Faith Christian easily defeats foe Mt. Calvary

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 27, 2008 2:03 AM

Experienced and youth-laden Faith Christian is positioned to challenge for the N.C. Christian Schools Association Class 2-A Coastal East Region baseball title this spring.

The Conquerors stayed among the region leaders with a 12-1 rout of Mt. Calvary on a warm and sun-splashed Friday afternoon. Faith Christian (9-2 overall) improved to 9-1 against region opposition this season with three key contests on the ledger next week.

"These guys have really gotten better throughout the year, but we still have plenty of things to work on," said first-year Conquerors head coach Justin Smith. "But next week is a big week for us."

Faith Christian entertains Trinity-Greenville on Monday and heads down Highway 70 on Tuesday for a doubleheader at region archrival Bethel Christian. Smith said his squad could also face Falls Road, the lone team to defeat the Conquerors in region play this season, on Wednesday.

The top two teams advance to the region playoffs.

"We're just trying to improve and we've emphasized playing together as a unit," said Smith, a Faith Christian alumnus.

That was evident against Mt. Calvary.

Pitcher John Kurt-Cozine (5-0) threw a two-hitter and got solid offensive support from his teammates. Sophomore third baseman Nick Gurley batted 3-for-3 with a double and five RBI. His bases-clearing, three-RBI double highlighted a five-run, second-inning uprising.

Senior Jay Hinson doubled and drove in three runs, while Silas Denlinger contributed two hits and stole three bases. Overall, the Conquerors swiped second and third base a combined 11 times. Warrior right-hander Josh McKeel had a deliberate delivery to the plate, which allowed Faith Christian's runners to live like thieves on the diamond.

McKeel also walked seven batters and permitted nine runs (four earned) on four hits. The Warrior defense committed four errors behind him.

"We played them better this time," said Smith.

Kurt-Cozine retired 11 consecutive batters and flirted with a perfect game for three-plus innings. Mt. Calvary catcher Matt Jones broke up Kurt-Cozine's flawless outing with a bloop single that the Conquerors' right fielder lost in the sunlight in the fourth inning.

Jones advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Jacob Jones' sharply-hit single to left field. Kurt-Cozine allowed two base runners in the fifth, but ended the game with his six strikeout.

"John was consistent," said Smith. "Usually, he gets rattled in the first and second innings, and then he settles down. Today, he was strong from the get-go. That was the best game he's pitched all year."