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Published 9:32am Thursday, April 3, 2014

WINDSOR – The Bertie Falcons rallied for seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, erased a three-run deficit and posted a come from behind win to defeat rival, Hertford County, 7-3, in a Northeastern Coastal Conference baseball game here Tuesday night.

Bertie did it despite getting only five hits, but what was key in the game were five straight base-on-balls in the pivotal inning that led to the Falcons’ first five runs.

“We showed some patience there at the end,” said first-year Bertie coach Bobby Harmon. “I told the kids I was proud of the way they battled because for the first time this year we didn’t start hanging our heads when things went bad we kept on fighting.”

The game was 0-0 through the first three innings thanks to a pitcher’s duel between the Falcons’ Alex Harmon and Hertford County’s Bryan Merritt.

The Bears opened the scoring with a run in the top of the fourth.  Merritt singled to left field and was safe on a fielder’s choice when Ryan Weaver reached on an infield single. Both advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch and on another Harmon wild pitch Merritt raced home with HertfordCounty’s first run of the game.  After Bertie failed to score it was 1-0, Bears, after four complete innings of play.

Hertford County added two more runs in the top of the sixth.  Brandon Terry singled to right and was lifted for pinch-runner Chris Adams who then stole second. Merritt followed with an infield single and both he and Adams advanced one base on Ryan Weaver’s sacrifice bunt.  Adams scored the Bears’ second run on an Austin Hurdle RBI ground-out and Merritt scored four tosses later on a wild pitch.  The Bears led it 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth.

In that frame, Bertie came alive.  Michael Scott drew a one-out walk followed by another base-on-balls to Adam Cowand and a swinging bunt single by Tommy Cowan that loaded the bases.

The Falcons then had five straight bases-loaded walks given up to Harmon, Christian Bland, Cody Matthews, Matthew Evans and Javier Pagola allowing Bertie to take a 5-3 lead.  After a pop out, Scott then had a two-run single to right field that plated Matthews and Evans.  A close play at first on a ground ball ended the inning, but not before the Falcons had picked up a 7-3 lead after six innings.

Hertford County didn’t fold; they went down swinging – literally. Harmon was lifted for surprise reliever Cowan in the top of the seventh. After Cowan got the first out Dylan Waterfield slashed an infield single.  Two wild pitches later Waterfield was on third base, still with just one out. Cowan then got a strikeout, but gave up a two-out walk to Eric Ortiz.  However, with runners on the corners, Cowan got a strikeout to end the game.

Harmon pitched six innings for the win allowing three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts.  For his one-inning effort, Cowan allowed no runs on a hit, and he struck out two.

Merritt pitched five-and-one-third innings allowing two runs on three hits and three strikeouts.  Ackerman Grace pitched zero innings and was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on four walks and a hit. Ortiz pitched the final two-thirds of an inning allowing no runs on one hit.

The Falcons had five hits.  One hit each by Pagola, Bland, Evans, Cowan and Scott.  Hertford County outhit Bertie six hits to five with the Bears’ hits coming on two safeties from Merritt and singles by Terry, Weaver, Grace and Waterfield.

“We couldn’t find the strike zone there in the sixth inning and Bertie took advantage,” said HertfordCounty coach Chris Towell. “We played extremely well the first five innings as Bryan threw a great five-plus innings and Eric pitched well also.”

“He (Alex) battled out of some tough situations,” said Coach Harmon, “but that’s what the whole team did.  No matter how much you downplay it, both of these teams get up once they see each other across the diamond.”

Hertford County is now 7-2 and 2-2 in conference play.  The Bears remain on the road, travelling to Edenton for a game on Friday at 7 p.m.  Bertie improves to 8-3 and 2-3 in the league.  The Falcons will host First Flight in Windsor at 7 on Friday.

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