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Post 102 juniors split with Post 316

AHOSKIE – Practice makes perfect is a cliché.

That it makes you better is a given.

Thanks to a morning workout Ahoskie Post-102’s Junior American Legion team, playing just their second and third games at home since late May, posted a double-header split with Pinetops Post-316.

The juniors won the first contest – a continuation of a rain-delayed game originally scheduled for June 4th – by a final of 6-2, but dropped the five-inning nightcap, 3-1.

The good news was that the first-game victory was a conference contest and was the juniors’ first league win of the summer season to make their record 1-2, while they’re 4-4 overall. Pinetops fell to 5-5 and 2-2 in the league.

“We had about a two-hour batting practice this morning”, said Ahoskie coach Wayne Hill, “and I think it showed in today’s games.”

“They had a little bit more spirit of wanting to win it today than they had (Friday) against Williamston,” he added.

The suspended first game resumed in the second inning with no score. Williamston touched Ahoskie pitcher Joseph Eure for an early run in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead.

Ahoskie bounced back in the bottom of the third. Daniel Merritt and Chris Rogerson posted back-to-back base hits to put runners on first and second. Both then moved up thanks to a passed ball by the Pinetops catcher.

Blake Hill then collected the first two of his five runs-batted-in on the night as he delivered a single into the gap in right-center field that rolled all the way to the wall. Merritt and Rogerson scored on the play as Hill took second on the throw and Ahoskie took a 2-1 lead.

It was the same score in the bottom of the fourth when Patrick Dilday lined a shot to center field that fell in for a base hit. After Eure sacrificed Dilday to second the latter scored two batters later on a two-out base hit by Jacob Rose that snuck just inside the right field line to stake Ahoskie to a 3-1 lead.

Ahoskie plated another run in the fifth inning as Hill made it 2-for-2 with a shot over the head of the Pinetops right fielder. After a pair of ground outs, Dilday sent a shot into the gap in left-center field to score Hill and make it, 4-1, Ahoskie.

Post-102 got their final two runs in the bottom of the sixth as Simon Hoggard and Rose opened with back-to-back singles. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice by Merritt and two batters later, with two outs, Hill completed the first game with his third hit, a double deep to center field that drove in his third and fourth runs for a 6-1 Ahoskie lead. However, Hill was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.

Hill, who had relieved Eure on the mound for Ahoskie in the top of the fifth, surrendered a run in the top of the seventh to make it 6-2, but got the final two outs to preserve the victory.

In the second game after two scoreless innings opened the contest, Pinetops got two men in scoring position thanks to a pair of base hits and an error before Spiers Miller drove in a run and Daniel Goodwyn reached on an error that allowed another run to score for a 2-0 lead.

Hill came back to halve the Pinetops lead with a solo home run for Ahoskie over the right field wall and make it 2-1.

It looked like Ahoskie would do more damage in the inning as Braxton Sumner followed Hill’s dinger with a base hit. Dilday then sent the ball deep to centerfield for a base hit, but Sumner was gunned down at third on a dead-on relay by the shortstop on the throw from the outfield to kill the threat.

Pinetops got their final run, unearned, in the top of the fifth to make it 3-1 and Ahoskie was retired in order in the next two innings – the last time before Hill could reach the batter’s box and allowed the visitors to hold on for the win and gain a split in the twin-bill.

“We wish we could’ve got the first win,” said Pinetops coach Charles Johnson, “because that was a conference game, but we’re happy to get out of here with one win.”

“There were four errors on our part,” said Ahoskie coach Hill, “and it ended up costing us; especially when we played error-free baseball in the first game.

“But I like our progress,” he added, “and we’ll keep working on our bats until we get everything right.”

Ahoskie will play its next three games at home. t began with a Monday game against Beaufort County Post-15 and then tomorrow (Wednesday) they’ll host Edenton before ending the week Saturday with a doubleheader against Greenville D.H. Conley.