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BASEBALL: King season opener called in the third-inning, after 18-3 route of rival Cass Tech

   | Branden Hunter

BASEBALL: King season opener called in the third-inning, after 18-3 route of rival Cass Tech

DETROIT - Martin Luther King high school opened its new building in 2012, equipped with a new pool and gymnasium;but construction on the new baseball diamond had not been complete yet.

Fast forward almost two years later and the Crusaders finally had the opportunity to play on their own home field again, downing rival Cass Tech 18-3.

"It was exciting," said junior pitcher De'Nayus Johnson on playing on the new field. "It was a start to what is going to be a great season for us. I basically loved it."

The game was called in the bottom of the third-inning, due to the mercy rule. Johnson started off rocky, but was stellar the rest of the way, allowing on two hits. Cass Tech jumped off to an 2-0 lead in the first inning, in which Johnson was forced to throw 27 pitches.

"I played pretty good," he said. "I had a pretty rough first inning, but I got myself together."

Johnson allowed another run in the top of the second, but that was all that Cass Tech was able to muster.

"De'Nayus is a hard worker and he's really trying to get better," said coach Norman Taylor. "I'm trying to get him to understand the concept of not pitching from behind and throwing the first pitch for a strike as much as possible.

"He's a junior and he's a work in progress."

King's bats were also on point this afternoon. After going down 2-0 in the top of the first, the Crusaders would get those two runs back and more to take a 3-2 lead into the top of the second.

Cass Tech (0-1) tied it at 3-3 in the top of the second, but King would blow the game open their turn at-bat.

Ken Ball's RBI single started off the onslaught bringing in senior shortstop Avonte Maddox in from third base, to make it 4-3. King would add on five more runs in the inning, mainly due to Cass Tech's poor pitching outing. Several of Demarcus Green's pitches got past the catcher, allowing King to advance bases and score often due to multiple errors and before they knew it, the Technicians were down 9-3.

"Cass Tech is a relatively young team," Taylor said. "They're missing a couple of their better players today and Coach Miller is a very good coach. He does a really good job coaching the kids and it'll get better for them."

King (1-0) didn't play its best either, despite winning by 15 runs. They committed a few unforced errors and were a bit undisciplined swinging the bat. This was both teams first game of the year, due to the inclement weather, so first game jitters were a expected.

"I would say it was first game jitters, mixed with first decent day to be outside," said Taylor. "It's customary for kids who don't play a lot to not be able to find the plate and make mental mistakes. But that's just something we have to deal with coaching inter-city baseball.

"We're young. It's early in the season and we have a long way to go."

Johnson continued to pitch well along with the hitting, sitting down all three of Cass Tech's batters in the top of the third. Striking out the last batter, to finish with five on the day.

"They're a pretty good team," he said. "It just meant a lot to get a win against a team I'm sure we will see later on in the season."

King doubled their run total in the bottom of the third, going on to win 18-3, before the umpires called the game right after senior Jalen Embry crossed home plate.