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Lawrence, Rocky Mt. split

ROCKY MOUNT – The North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association second ranked 1-A Lawrence Academy and number two 2-A Rocky Mount Academy met Friday night splitting a doubleheader.

In the opener, the Warriors rode the pitching of freshman Dylan Ralph to take a 7-4 victory while Rocky Mount rallied for three runs in the top of the fifth to take the nightcap 7-5. Both games were five inning affairs with Lawrence designated as the home team for the second game.

In game one, Rocky Mount jumped on Lawrence starting pitcher for two runs in the bottom of the first.

With two out, Adam Hodges reached first on an error by the Warrior shortstop and circled the bases to score as the next Eagle batter, Edmund Gravely, blasted a triple into the rightfield corner.

Gravely then scored on Peytom McDaniel’s infield single to give RMA an early 2-0 advantage.

However the Eagle lead was short lived as LA came roaring back with a vengeance in the top of the second.

Daniel Oliver opened the frame with a single and moved to second one out later as Chad Whitehead singled to left. Whitehead was erased at second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Gray Harrell with Oliver taking third.

Jake Mitchell then stepped to the plate and blasted RMA starting pitcher Adam Hodges offering off the scoreboard in centerfield for a homerun giving the Warriors a 3-2 lead and they would not trail in the contest again.

RMA tied the game in the bottom of the second on a two out single by Alex Holland and a double to right center off the bat of Gib Alligood.

But once again LA retaliated as Judd Whitehead singled with two out in the third, stole second and raced home on Daniel Oliver’s bloop single to shallow leftfield.

In the fourth inning, Lawrence would all but put the game away with a four run outburst.

Chad Whitehead doubled to right center to open the stanza and went to third as the Eagle shortstop could not handle Gray Harrell’s groundball. Harrell promptly stole second giving the Warriors runners on second and third with no outs.

Jake Mitchell then grounded to RMA second baseman Lee Whitley who threw Whitehead out at the plate and Hodges then fanned Dylan Ralph for the second out. But Evan Holton’s single plated Harrell and after a walk to T.J.

Johnston, Judd Whitehead then delivered a two-run base hit to center to put the Warriors up 7-3.

RMA was able to add one more tally on a ground rule double by Mark Burnette and singles by Holland and Gib Alligood in the fourth but was unable to get any offensive output in the fifth and final inning.

Dylan Ralph got the win for Lawrence striking out five and walking but one. Adam Hodges took the loss for RMA. Offensively, Daniel Oliver and Chad Whitehead at 2-for-3 paced LA while Alex Holland 2-for-2 and Gib Alligood 2-for-3 led RMA.

In the nightcap Lawrence Academy took advantage of RMA starting pitcher Hobbs Johnson’s early wildness to get on the scoreboard early..

After retiring the Eagles in the top of the first, Lawrence loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the frame.

Evan Holton led off with a single to right, T.J. Johnston drew a walk and Judd Whitehead was hit by a pitch. Daniel Oliver’s sacrifice fly plated Holton and Johnson walked both J.T.Lilley and Gray Harrell to force home another tally giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead after one inning of play.

Rocky Mount got on the board in the top of the second as Matt Ezzell connected for a home run over the 330 sign in left center off Warrior starter Daniel Oliver.

But Lawrence countered with a single run of their own in the bottom of the inning. Joe Harrell opened with a walk, went to third on Evan Holton’s single.

After Johnson struck out, Judd Whitehead was again hit by a pitch to load the bases. RMA coach Andy Jackson then elected to replace Johnson with Matt Ezzell. Ezzell uncorked a wild pitch to allow Harrell to score from third before retiring Oliver on a fly to center and picking Holton off third to end the inning.

RMA then took the lead in their half of the third.

Lee Whitley was hit by a pitch and stole second. One out later, Edmund Gravely drew a walk and Hobbs Johnson singled to right scoring Whitley. Gravely scored on a passed ball and Ezzell’s infield out plated Johnson giving the Eagles a 4-3 lead.

The lead was short-lived though as once again the Warriors battled back.

Lilley reached on a error to open the bottom of the third. Chad Whitehead’s single and a walk to Gray Harrell loaded the bases and Jake Mitchell’s single to left scored Lilley before Joe Harrell popped to short for the first out.

Evan Holton then hit a long twisting fly ball down the rightfield line on which RMA outfielder Alex Holland made a spectacular catch. Whitehead tagged and scored on the play, but Holland’s defensive gem cost LA at least two runs and was the play of the game.

RMA then put Lawrence away in the final frame capitalizing on a pair of Warrior errors.

Edmund Gravely drew a walk with one out and was replaced by pinch runner Gib Allig A single to Hobbs Johnson and a walk to Hobbs Johnson laoded the bases. Matt Ezzell then grounded to second and LA 2B J.T.

Lilley’s throw pulled shortstop Judd Whitehead off the bag allowing Alligood to score and leaving the bases loaded.

Tanner Brake, the next RMA hitter, then missed the bunt on a suicide squeeze attempt catching Hobbs Johnson in a run down between third and home.

Johnson, however, was safe at the plate as the LA pitcher dropped the ball after the tag was made. Brake then hit a sacrifice fly to center scoring McDaniel with the third run of the stanza to put RMA up 7-5.

After Jake Mitchell opened the bottom of the fifth with a single off the RMA third basemen’s glove the Warriors went out 1-2-3 to end the game.

Matt Ezzell got the win for Rocky Mount in relief of starter Hobbs Johnson. Daniel Oliver went the distance for Lawrence taking the loss.

Johnson paced the Eagles at the plate going 2-for-3 while Evan Holton and Jake Mitchell were both 2-for-3 for the Warriors.