Justin King overcame a subpar day on the mound with a superb one at the plate as defending champion Cardinal Gibbons came from behind for a 12-3 rout of visiting Friends in the Crusaders' Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference opener.
King, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, led an 11-hit attack by the Crusaders (9-6, 1-0), going 4-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. The right-hander also pitched the distance, striking out six against four hits, two walks and a hit batsman.
King (3-1) was successful at the plate despite it being his first day working on a shorter swing and a modified stance.
"Coach [Lou Holcomb] changed my batting stance, and I felt more comfortable hitting than pitching today," said King. "At one point, I thought we could lose. Fortunately, we were able to do something about it."
Friends (3-7, 1-1) turned a 1-0 second-inning deficit into a 3-1 lead with a three-hit, three-run third inning.
Phil Snyder's run-scoring triple, and run-scoring singles by Matt Helman and Josh Pincus-Sokoloff sparked the Quakers before King settled down in the fourth inning by retiring the side on seven pitches.
"Justin's a power pitcher with his fastball and a hard slider, but today he had to add and subtract a little," said Holcomb. "He got his slow curveball going, his changeup and the fastball."
King also got help from a Quakers' defense that committed four errors in a seven-run, three-hit fourth inning for the Crusaders, who sent 11 batters to the plate in that inning and took a 9-3 lead into the fifth.
Gibbons' Clarence Briscoe nailed a bases-loaded three-run double for the six-run lead, finishing at 2-for-4 and scoring once.
Also, Craig King, who is not related to Justin, went 2-for-4 with a double and scored twice. Steve Cromer doubled and scored three times. Doug Summers was 1-for-4 with two RBIs and scored once, and Matt Foster was 0-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored.
"The first couple of innings, we played excellently," said Friends coach Tom Randall, whose Quakers lost their previous meeting with Gibbons, 6-2, last spring. "To be ahead and to hit the way we did early against a team of this caliber, I'm happy with that.
"We need only to stretch over the entire game."