LA slips past Ridgecroft

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 4, 2007

MERRY HILL – Ridgecroft coach Richard Murray couldn’t have asked more of Josh Morris: the junior went two-for-four with a run batted in and pitched a seven-hitter with seven strikeouts for Ridgecroft here on Monday.

It wasn’t enough as Lawrence Academy touched him up for a pair of runs in the third inning and the Warriors held off a bases-loaded sixth inning rally and posted their fifth-straight win over the Rams, 4-1, at Merry Hill that settled first place in the Tarheel Independent Conference as the second and third ranked teams in the latest NCISAA poll battled it out for first-place. 

Jonathan Brantley and Daniel Oliver combined for a seven-hitter for Lawrence, which raised it’s record to 10-2 and 5-0 in the TIC. Ridgecroft suffered their first conference loss of the year and fell to 5-1 in the league and 6-2 overall.

 The game was scoreless until the third inning when Miles Harrell singled up the middle and legged it out to second base when the ball was misplayed in center field.  After being sacrificed to third, Harrell scored the first run of the game on Morris’ single to left for a 1-0 Ridgecroft lead. 

Lawrence struck back in the bottom of the frame when Gray Harrell drew a two-out walk, moved to third on Judd Whitehead’s single, and scored the equalizer on a passed ball.  Whitehead would later score the go-ahead run on Oliver’s single to left to make it 2-1, Lawrence after three.

 The Warriors got another run - again with two outs – in the bottom of the fourth when Joe Harrell doubled and came home on Evan Holton’s triple to right for a 3-1 lead.

The final Lawrence run was scored in the bottom of the fifth when Oliver drew a walk, stole second, and came home after back-to-back safeties from T.J. Lilley and Jake Mitchell to make it 4-1.

Ridgecroft made it interesting in the top of the sixth inning.

Neal Howard opened the inning with a double and stood 90 feet away after a wild pitch moved him to third. Dustin Baker walked, then stole second to put a pair of Rams in scoring position. 

After a strikeout, Patrick Dilday walked to load the bases before Warriors coach Robert Kravitz called for relief of Brantley with Oliver. With his changeup working the corners, Oliver struck out the final two batters of the inning to end the threat. 

Ridgecroft got a runner to second base in the top of the seventh, but the Rams’ final chance ended on a double play.

&uot;You can bring them (the pitchers) in any situation,&uot; said Kravitz afterward, &uot;and they’ll really buckle down.  We practice situations like that and it shows and it pays off.  It was hard to play a Monday game following Prom Weekend, but they’ll come out and they’ll be fired up.&uot;

&uot;We gave up those unearned runs,&uot; said Murray, &uot;and that cost us.  We had a lotta good hits - and they were hard hits  – but they were also right at ’em.&uot; 

Morris and Neal Howard collected two hits each for the Rams, while Lilley paced the Warriors, going two-for-three.