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Warriors survive and advance

MERRY HILL – Lawrence Academy built a 6-0 lead over rival Ridgecroft in the second round of the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association playoffs.

The Warriors then had to hold on to win 7-5 after a five-run rally by the Rams in the top of the sixth stanza.

“Chad (Whitehead) pitched an excellent game for us today,” Lawrence Head Baseball Coach Robert Kravitz said. “We hit the ball better against Josh today than we have been. Ridgecroft made a good comeback against us. They are a good team.

“This game should give us some momentum heading into this weekend,” Kravitz added. “This was a good win.”

Morris and Whitehead each cruised through the opening innings before Lawrence opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third.

Joe Harrell singled to center and went to second on a wild pickoff throw. J.T. Lilley then reached on an error and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.

Another wild pitch plated Harrell and sent Lilley to third. After Whitehead walked, courtesy runner Chase Elliot stole second and a bad throw allowed Lilley to come home.

The Warriors added three marks in the bottom of the fourth frame.

Bud Bishop singled to center. Dylan Ralph’s double down the left field line gave Lawrence runners at second and third. Harrell plated Bishop on an RBI-single to right. Ralph held at third, but Harrell was thrown out at second on the play.

Ralph scored on an Evan Holton RBI-single to right. Holton then came around on a double to left off the bat of Lilley, giving Lawrence a 5-0 advantage.

The Warriors added another run in the bottom of the fifth frame.

Blake Hill singled to center and went to second on a wild pitch. He took third on a Bishop groundout and scored on a T.J. Johnston RBI-single to give Lawrence a 6-0 lead.

The Rams came storming back in the top of the sixth, scoring five times.

Matthew Jones and Logan Kinlaw had back-to-back singles and Morris walked to load the bases. Holton snagged a line drive at shortstop to record the first out.

Jones then scored on a bases-loaded walk issued to Brian Outlaw. Blake Sumner plated Kinlaw and Morris with his double down the left field line.

Outlaw and Sumner then scored on a Nathan Pearce two-run single to left. Pearce took second on the throw home and then advanced to third on a wild pitch.

Two strikeouts ended the inning with Lawrence leading 6-5.

The Warriors added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Harrell doubled to left, but was tagged out at third when Holton reached on a two-base fielder’s choice. Holton went to third and scored on wild pitches.

In the top of the seventh, Jones led off with an infield single, but a pop out and a double play ended the game.

Whitehead threw five strong innings for the Warriors, allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out eight. Ralph pitched one-third of an inning and Jonathan Brantley tossed the final one and two-thirds of an inning.

Morris went four innings for the Rams, allowing five runs while scattering six hits. He struck out four. Patrick Dilday tossed the final two innings.

Lawrence had nine hits led by Harrell who was 3-for-3 for the afternoon. Jones and Outlaw had two hits each to lead Ridgecroft’s eight-hit attack.

Lawrence (20-2) advanced to Friday’s NCISAA semifinal game at Wilson.