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Lawrence tops Parrott

MERRY HILL – Hoping to finish again in the final four, if not as state champions, the highly regarded Lawrence Academy Warriors opened their home baseball schedule Wednesday at Merry Hill with a come-from-behind 7-2 victory over Arendell-Parrott Academy of Kinston.

Blake Hill went 2-for-3 and scored a pair of runs while Jonathan Brantley and Chad Whitehead knocked in a run apiece with Brantley also collecting two hits.

R.J. Deppisch picked up the win, his first of the year, with relief help from Joe Harrell, who came on in the fourth and struck out five while allowing just one base-on-balls.

After two scoreless innings by each team to open the contest, Parrott got on the scoreboard first in the top of the third inning when Tillman Sneed singled off Deppisch for the first Parrott hit of the game. He later stole second, went to third on a fielder’s choice and scored when teammate Alex Bundrys delivered a solid shot to left field for a 1-0 lead for the visitors.

Lawrence came back to take the lead in the bottom of the third.

Evan Holton opened the frame with a one-out single to right field. Bud Bishop followed with a solid shot to the shortstop and a tailor-made double-play, but the ball sailed over the head of the second baseman and the Warriors had two men aboard.

Whitehead drove a low slider into the gap in right to plate Holton with the equalizer and Parrott reliever Bill Causey unloaded a wild-pitch, Bishop sped in with the go-ahead run and a 2-1 Lawrence lead after three innings.

Harrell opened the fourth inning on the mound for the Warriors and surrendered a double to Artis Jessup on his second pitch in relief. After Jessup moved to third on a wild-pitch Harrell walked the next batter before Causey ripped a fastball to left for a double to score Jessup and tie the game at 2-2 and put two more runners in scoring position.

But Harrell avoided further damage by nailing both runners at the plate on back-to-back plays when the ball was hit weakly back to the mound, then recorded the final out to leave the score tied after three and a half innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, Hill – who’d earlier struck out – blasted a shot to left just over the head of the third baseman and went to second on a wild-pitch and then came the game’s most bizarre play.

After Causey recorded two outs and the Patriots looked to be ready to get out of the inning with Hill left on base, Jonathan Brantley hit a slow roller to short. Shortstop Budrys charged the ball and made the quick throw to Jessup at first base for what Parrott thought was the final out. 

Jessup tossed the ball into the infield and was headed to the dugout when Coach Mike Kearney pointed frantically and shouted from the dugout that the umpire had called Brantley safe at first.  Hill alertly never stopped running and as Causey retrieved the ball and fired to home plate, Hill slid in under the tag for the go-ahead run and a 3-2 Lawrence lead. Brantley, however, was thrown out at second trying to collect an extra base on the hit.

Lawrence picked up another run in the bottom of the fifth for a two-run lead, then broke the game wide open in the sixth with a trio of runs when Daniel Oliver walked, was doubled to third by Hill, then scored an unearned run on a wild pitch.

Hill would also score later on a wild pitch and J.T. Lilley scored the final Warrior run on a Brantley single as Lawrence sent their fans home happy with the five-run win to open the year at 2-0.

&uot;Harrell is coming in was huge,&uot; said a smiling coach Robert Kravitz after the game.  &uot;We have a lot of pitching depth and we hope that carries us over the top this year.

&uot;Because of the rain and wet field this is only like the fourth time we’ve been outside this year, but we focus on the fundamentals and our defense today was outstanding with no errors,&uot; he added. 

The Warriors were postponed Friday against Faith Christian in the Greenfield Invitational Tournament at Wilson’s Fleming Stadium because of rain. They will try to play that game early Saturday, weather permitting, and hope later to face Goldsboro’s Wayne Country Day, the team that ended Lawrence’s state championship run last spring.