Junior team winsBy Gene Motley
AHOSKIE – Looking for drama to watch this summer?
Forget about &uot;America’s Got Talent,’ some outstanding young baseball talent’s on display from Ahoskie American Legion Post-102’s junior baseball team.
And they showed it off Friday night at Hertford County High School baseball field with a dramatic come-from-behind, 9-6, win over Beaufort County Post-15’s junior team as Brandon Warren sent a pitch over the left field fence for a walk-off grand-slam homerun.
It marked the second straight game the junior’s had won in their last at-bat and upped their record on the season entering the weekend to 4-0; all coming in non-conference play.
&uot;We just didn’t quit,&uot; said a grinning coach David Ellis, as his young players high-fived and whooped-it-up outside the dugout after the game. &uot;Maybe it was the experience of last week (a 4-3 last at-bat win over Wayne County-North), but the kids came through.&uot;
Ahoskie opened the scoring for the game in the bottom of the first inning with three straight one-out singles from Austin Cook, Zeek Williams and John Hunter off Beaufort County starter Heath Rogerson to load the bases.
Edward Joyner followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to plate Cook and stake Ahoskie to a 1-0 lead after one inning of play.
Though Ahoskie starting pitcher Warren struck out five of the first nine batters he faced, including the side in-order in the second inning, Beaufort County touched him up for three runs in the top of the third inning thanks to a pair of Ahoskie errors and two base hits.to give the visitors a 3-1 lead.
Ahoskie came back to tie the score in their half of the third as Travis Ellis opened the inning with a single to right field and later stole second base. After Cook drew a walk, both runners advanced on a double steal and two outs later Joyner collected his second and third RBI’s of the game when he sent a fastball to left field to plate Ellis and Cook with the equalizers and a 3-3 tie after three.
Beaufort County added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to give them a two-run lead at 5-3 entering the final two frames of the game.
Neither team scored in the sixth inning, but Beaufort County added to their lead in the top of the seventh as miscues once again plagued Ahoskie. The visiting team put a pair of runners aboard with two outs before Caleb Hines delivered the third RBI of the night from the number-six batter’s spot.
Hines was later picked off by Ahoskie catcher Williams as he tried to steal third for the final Beaufort County out, but Ahoskie entered their final half inning trailing 6-3.
Monterio Hunter opened the seventh stanza for Ahoskie with a base-hit and later stole second. Ellis followed and drew a walk and both players moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Cook sent a sacrifice fly to deep center that plated Hunter and Ahoskie had trimmed the lead to two.
The next batter, Williams, beat out a slow grounder down the third base line to put runners on the corners and John Hunter then delivered a single that scored Ellis to pull Ahoskie within a run at 6-5.
Following an out and another safety, the bases were loaded for Warren. With the sparse Ahoskie crowd on it’s feet, he worked the count to 2-1 before seeing a hanging curve ball that he sent rocketing into the Ahoskie evening sky. Beaufort County left fielder Zachary Boyd gave chase only to crash into the fence as the ball sailed over the wall and the Ahoskie dugout erupted in celebration.
Warren was mobbed by teammates after the grand-slam as the sixth run of the inning crossed the plate.
&uot;He was due,&uot; said coach Ellis, nodding over toward Warren. &uot;He’d pitched a good game despite falling behind and then came back to get the game-winning hit.”
&uot;We didn’t make plays in the last inning,&uot; said a disappointed Beaufort County coach Joey Duke shaking his head. &uot;I can’t be down about our effort, but when it counted, we just didn’t make plays.&uot;
Following a Saturday double-header at Oxford the junior team will open conference play at home tonight against Tarboro in a game moved from Wednesday because of a conflict.