Junior team drops pair

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2011

AHOSKIE – Reversal of fortune.

After beginning the season with a pair of wins, the Ahoskie Post-102 junior American Legion baseball team has hit a bump in the road.

Since the openers the ‘juniors’ have gone 2-4 with the latest setback being twin losses Tuesday night in double-header action to the Nash Central junior team by scores of 6-3 in a seven-inning game and 5-2 in a five-inning contest.

While the bats need awakening, especially at the top of the line-up, the loss of slugging catcher, Jim Porter – who went down last week with a hand injury and is expected to miss several games – has to factor in to the lack of recent success.

On Tuesday, the team was in a tight first game – down just a run – until Nash Central scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning and then snuffed out an Ahoskie comeback in the bottom of the seventh.

In the second contest, Ahoskie scored first, but surrendered all five losing runs over the next two innings to fall to the .500 mark with a season record of 4-4.

“Sure I’m disappointed,” shrugged Ahoskie Coach Wayne Hill, “and after our Wednesday game and some time off for graduations, beginning this weekend we’re going to have to get in some BP (batting practice).”

With Hill’s frustration beginning to show through he called out his team.

“The boys are going to have to start hitting if they want to compete in this conference,” he said, “because we’ve got several guys at the top that should be hitting.

“In tight ball games,” he added, “they just can’t strike out; and from what I’ve seen their weakness is outside pitching.”

That was evident in the first game of the twin-bill.  After Nash Central got on the scoreboard first in the top of the first inning, Ahoskie got the equalizer in the bottom of the frame.

Robert Thompson drew a lead-off base-on-balls followed by a base hit by Ryan Lilley. One out later, Darren Armstrong’s sacrifice fly plated Thompson to make the score, 1-1.

Nash Central went ahead again in the top of the second, 2-1, and it remained that way as Ahoskie starter Jesse White was able to keep the Nash County bats at bay until they got to him with a four-run explosion in the sixth to take a 6-1 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, after a ground-out, Ahoskie drilled four straight base hits.  RBI’s by Perry Wynns and Armstrong plated Lilley and Plymouth’s Shaun Holloway to make it 6-3.

Ahoskie loaded the bases with still just one out, but could get no more across the plate and suffered the doubled-up loss.

Game two was a pitcher’s duel with Holloway and Austin Lee combining on a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts between them; while Ryan Barham – who caught the first game for Nash Central – went the distance twirling a three-hitter with nine strikeouts.

Ahoskie got their first run in the bottom of the first inning when Holloway ripped a two-out double to the right-field fence.  He then raced home when the next batter, Armstrong, cracked a base hit up the middle for the team’s first run-batted-in and a 1-0 lead.

But in the top of the second Nash Central went ahead.

With two runners in scoring position, Ahoskie committed back-to-back errors allowing the visitors to score a pair of unearned runs and take a 2-1 lead.

Ahoskie loaded the bases in their half of the second, but failed to score.

Nash Central got three more runs, two of them unearned, in the third to lead 5-1.

Ahoskie made no noise until the bottom of the fifth when Holloway drew a one-out walk, went to second two batters later on Zach Eubanks’ base hit and then scored when Wynns’ two-out pop-up was misplayed. However, a pinch-hitter struck out to end the game.

“They scrapped hard and took advantage,” said Nash Central Coach Buck Edmondson of his team. “We didn’t hit the ball that great, but we scratched out enough to win the ball games.”

“Our pitching’s good,” said Hill.  “I don’t know what to say other than we just have to start hitting.”