Warriors fall in nightcapPublished 6:32pm Monday, April 2, 2012
MERRY HILL – Call this one the ‘Challenge of the Champs’.
For the second straight Friday, Lawrence Academy played a baseball double-header featuring one visitor from north of the Mason-Dixon line.
This week it was Upper Room Christian School of Dix Hills, New York, two-time defending National Christian School Athletic Association champion facing a Warrior nine that had won four straight North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association titles.
In a game shortened because of darkness on an unlit field, Lawrence’s comeback fell short thanks to the approaching twilight, and the Royals prevailed, 12-6.
Down 12-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Lawrence’s bats came alive and coupled with several Upper Room errors, the Warriors staged a five-run rally; and but for the twilight were left to wonder what might have been.
“We played a really good team and we showed a lot of character,” said Lawrence coach Robert Kravitz.
Zach Eubanks went 2-for-2 and drove in a pair of runs. Coupled with the Warriors first-game win, 15-5, over Community Christian, Eubanks finished the double-dip driving in six runs.
J.B. Williams and Cody Ambrose also drove in runs for Lawrence, with Ambrose scoring twice.
Lefty starter Dallas Belch absorbed the loss, giving up five runs on six hits while striking out five and walking four. Drew Williams gave up the other four Royals hits.
Upper Room right-hander, Ramon Aureano, picked up the win with a seven-hit, 12-strikeout performance. He also surrendered six walks.
“We got our hands full, but it’s good to be brought back down to earth and play real baseball, so it’s fun,” Kravitz said.
After a scoreless first two innings – in which the two teams had a combined one hit – Upper Room lit up the scoreboard first with a pair of runs on a pair of hits and a Lawrence error in the top of the third.
Lawrence would halve that lead and pick up a run in the bottom of the fourth when Ambrose reached on an error. Two outs later Eubanks lifted a long fly ball to the deepest part of center field and Ambrose legged it out from first to score.
In the top of the sixth inning Upper Room sent 14 men to the plate and smoked Lawrence for 10 runs. Part of that onslaught included three homeruns. Despite Kravitz making a pitching change the Royals continued to score.
With the sun creeping lower and lower in the sky it seemed Lawrence might just go quietly in the bottom of the frame, but the Warriors were having none of it.
Ambrose walked to open the inning and Drew Williams – who had come on for defense in the top of the sixth – singled to left field to put a pair of Warriors on the base paths.
The next batter struck out, but Eubanks followed and he once again sent a shot to center field. Ambrose came around to score with Williams motoring behind him.
The Royals third baseman tried for a play at the plate, but instead threw the ball away and it was suddenly a 12-3 ballgame as Williams slid in safely. The play also allowed Eubanks to make it to third base.
J.B. Williams was the next batter and his base hit up the middle delivered Eubanks. The next Lawrence batter struck out, but not before Aureano unleashed a wild pitch allowing Williams to move to second.
Robert Thompson next delivered a shot to left and when the ball was misplayed for an error, Williams came around to score making it a 12-5 ballgame and the Lawrence fans, quiet and bundled against the afternoon chill, suddenly sprang back to life.
A base hit by Ryan Lilley and a walk to Jim Porter followed Thompson to load the bases. Ambrose came next for his second plate appearance in the inning and it produced a walk – and a run – plus, it left the bases full.
Unfortunately, the next batter made a ground out and with the sun sinking fast in the sky, the game was called.
“I never think it’s over,” said Upper Room coach Tony Pasalacqua.
“Baseball’s such a funny game and give them credit, they never gave up and that says a lot about their coaches and their character,” he added motioning toward the Lawrence dugout.
Lawrence followed up the Friday doubleheader with another twin-bill on Saturday at Greenbrier Christian Academy in Chesapeake, Virginia in the Gator Round-Robin.
The Warriors dropped a 6-3 contest to Annapolis Area Christian in game-one and a 10-0 decision to the host school in the nightcap.