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Aces nip Bertie

WINDSOR – Another close one falls short.

Edenton edged Bertie Tuesday night, 2-1, to remain unbeaten in the Northeast Coastal Conference despite an outstanding pitching performance from Dakota Young and the Falcons comeback falling a couple of runs short of a win.

“I told the guys to keep their heads up, they had nothing to hang their heads about,” said Falcons coach Randy Whitaker. “We played a good ball game and it came down to just one inning, which has been our Achilles heel. They took a couple of miscues and turned it into two runs, but I’m real proud of my guys.”

Young, when his fastball was working well, had a game-high seven strikeouts for Bertie (2-5, 0-3). He was also 1-for-3 at the plate with the game’s only extra-base hit, a double in the bottom of the fourth inning. Zeek Williams was 2-for-3 while Bo Ledford drove in Bertie’s only run.

Austin Cooke went the distance for Edenton (7-0, 3-0) to gain the win over several of his former American Legion Junior baseball teammates, surrendering just a lone run on three hits and striking out four.

The game was scoreless through the first three innings before Edenton opened the top of the fourth with a base hit from Nikolai Simonsen. He then stole second on a pick-throw than was bobbled allowing him to advance to third. The next batter, Campbell Brown, then singled in the first run of the game and a 1-0 Aces lead.

Micah Simonsen followed with a hit-and-run play and slapped a weak grounder to second, but the throw was bobbled at first base as Brown advanced to second. Nick Bunch followed with a slow dribbler back to the mound; but pitcher Young couldn’t make a play on it at either base and the sacks were suddenly full of Aces.

After striking out the next batter, Heath Jordan hit a bouncer to short and was safe on the high throw to first base, allowing Brown to score the game’s second run. Young tightened down after that and struck out the rest of the side with the bases loaded to escape more trouble for the Falcons, who went into their half of the fourth trailing, 2-0.

Young opened the Bertie half of the fourth with a double all the way to the fence in center field and, after a fly-out, moved to third on Williams’ base hit. However, he was left stranded there as Cooke escaped giving up any runs when the next two batter hit infield ground-outs.

Edenton threatened again in the fifth frame by loading the bases on a pair of safeties, a strikeout and a walk before Young threw out a runner at the plate and got the next batter looking. The threat ended with the sacks still full, but Bertie escaping with no further damage.

The Aces went scoreless in the top of the fifth and in the bottom of the frame Bertie went to work.

Williams singled deep to right field with two out and advanced to second on the throw before a wild-pitch moved him to third. Ledford followed and ground one back to Cooke, who threw wildly to the plate and Williams slid in hard under the tag to trim the Bertie deficit to 2-1. However, another infield ground out ended any more Falcons’ scoring.

In the seventh, Ledford replaced Young on the mound and despite giving up a pair of base-on-balls got out of the innings without any runs scoring.

Bertie was poised to fulfill the comeback in their half of the seventh, but Cooke was dialed in and struck out the side for the Aces’ second conference road win in a row.

“We’ve been playing small-ball all year,” said Edenton coach Justin Roberson, “and Austin didn’t really have great stuff tonight but he battled and battled and got through it.”

“That conference win’s going to come,” said the upbeat Whitaker, either Thursday (in Elizabeth City against Northeastern) or Friday (when the Falcons play at Hertford County).

“But right now,” he added, “we’ll take it one game at a time because we’ve got to play seven innings. We can’t play six.”