Junior Team drops two

Published 5:22 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2011

AHOSKIE – Time to do the ‘Tighten-Up”.

No, not that 1960’s-era dance craze, but rather the American Legion baseball variety.

Roanoke Rapids swept a doubleheader from Ahoskie Post 102’s junior Legion team Tuesday at Hertford County baseball field, 12-0 and 14-3. Both games were shortened to five innings.

The twin losses dropped Ahoskie to 6-5 in league games and 8-7 overall.

The wins also got the boys from Halifax County back into the conference race with just one game now separating first-place from fourth-place among Nash Central, Ahoskie, Elizabeth City and, now Roanoke Rapids.

“If we’d have come out and beat those guys like we’re capable of,” said assistant coach Nathan Dilday, “we could have virtually eliminated them and just made it a three-man race.

“But when you come out and don’t give any effort,” he shrugged, leaving his own question hanging there in the thick summertime air.

“It wasn’t that we had bad pitching,” he added. “We just didn’t hit and we didn’t play defense; and I don’t know what it was.”

Ackerman Grace and Dallas Belch collected the lone base hits each for Ahoskie in the first game. In game two, Bobby Merritt was 1-for-1 and drove in a run while Zach Eubanks got the other RBI.

Ahoskie pitching surrendered 26 runs and 23 hits in the two games.

“Sure we don’t practice much,” said Dilday, “but when you play three and four games a week it’s kind of hard to practice. Playing that many games is like practice because we’re seeing the ball.

“We’re better than we showed tonight,” he added.

After a scoreless first inning, Roanoke Rapids sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs in the second, four of them unearned due to errors.

At one point, they had five hits in a row including two for extra bases on a triple and a homerun.

Five more runs came across for the visitors in the third inning to put the game away. On the mound, Roanoke Rapids pitcher Terrence Rogers gave up just two Ahoskie hits while striking out two and walking a pair.

“Gotta swing the bat,” said Head Coach Wayne Hill. “Errors started it off and after that, the wheels fell off; plus we did a lot to help that pitcher out.”

In the second game, Roanoke Rapids’ offense continued with six runs in the first two innings off three Ahoskie pitchers.

Post 102 finally got on the board in the bottom of the second when Perry Wynns singled and two batters later Merritt’s double drove him in.

Ahoskie got single runs in each of the next two innings. A Eubanks sacrifice fly scored Ryan Lilley for one run and the other scored on an error.

Roanoke Rapids, however, got eight runs over the same two half-innings despite just three hits.  One bright spot for the home team during that time: Brandon Stifflemire logged three strikeouts.

“They embarrassed us at home,” said Roanoke Rapids coach Greg Clifton, referring to a 15-1 Ahoskie win just a week earlier. “We wanted to prove we were better than that but we never expected this.”

“We can get back in it,” said Dilday. “because we don’t give up that easily and I don’t expect us to mail it in any more this year.”

Ahoskie plays at Elizabeth City tonight (Thursday) before returning home for a Sunday doubleheader against Edenton beginning at 1 p.m.