Ahoskie sweeps Edenton

Published 1:57 pm Monday, June 27, 2011

AHOSKIE – Trumped.

Ahoskie’s Post 102 American Legion junior baseball team was out-hit in a pair of weekend wins, but as they say: pitching trumps hitting every time.

Thanks to stellar mound performances from Darren Armstrong and Dallas Belch, the juniors swept the junior team of Edenton Post 40, by scores of 7-5 and 2-1. Both hurlers went the distance for their wins.

Armstrong won the first game despite giving up 11 hits and five runs. He struck out nine, only walked one batter, and three times got out of jams with runners in scoring position.

In the nightcap, Belch gave up a run on six hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.

At the plate, both Zack Eubanks and Ryan Lilley were 3-for-5 in both games with Lilley driving in a team-high three runs including the walk-off game winner in game two.

Only the first game of the pair was a league contest, so that win made Ahoskie 8-5 in conference play coming off their Thursday upset at Elizabeth City. The sweep gave Post 102 an 11-7 overall mark.

“I’ll take it any way I can get it,” chuckled Ahoskie Head Coach Wayne Hill, shaking his head after the twinbill.  “A lot of these boys could have played for either team this summer so these are big rivalry games.

“They all know each other,” he added, “so there’s a lot of pressure on both sides to do well. When you put pressure on yourself like that it usually leads to a tight ball game.”

It was punch-counterpunch in the first game.

Ahoskie broke through in the bottom of the first inning when Lilley opened with a base hit and one out later Armstrong’s single into the gap in right center delivered him with the game’s first run.

Edenton got the equalizer in the top of the second, but back came the home team.  Patrick Castelloe reached on a two-out error and the next batter, Lilley, brought him home with a single to left field to make it, 2-1, Ahoskie after an inning and a half.

It was the same score in the top of the fifth when Edenton broke through to knot things up again only to see Ahoskie take a two-run lead in their half of the frame on a pair of unearned runs.

Belch struck out, but went to first when the catcher dropped the baseball on strike-three.  Lilley was then hit by a pitch and Holloway reached on a fielder’s choice.

A two-base error scored Belch and Lilley went all the way to third on the play. He then came home thanks to another miscue by the visitors on a pickoff attempt making it 4-2, Ahoskie, after five.

Edenton tied the game for a third time at 4-4 in the top of the sixth, but three more unearned Ahoskie runs in the bottom of the inning looked to have sealed the win for Armstrong.

Instead, the big right-hander gave up a run on back-to-back base hits in the top of the seventh.  Edenton then got runners to second and third thanks to a one-out sacrifice bunt, but a harmless fly ball ended the drama.

“Armstrong got four unearned runs,” said frustrated Edenton coach Travis Lilly. “Take four from seven and we win this thing, 5-3.

“I’m tired of losing like that to these guys,” he added, grinning with mock irony.

Lilly would have to experience that irony one more time, however, in the five-inning second game.

Edenton opened with a 1-0 lead in the second inning only to see Ahoskie come back and tie it as Eubanks was hit by a pitch, stole second and later scored on a two-base Edenton error.

It stayed 1-1 through a good pitching battle between Belch and a trio of Edenton hurlers. But in the bottom of the fifth Adam Fairless, who had been hitless on the afternoon, got a one-out single to left field.

Edenton made a pick-off throw to first base and on the throwback to the pitcher, the ball sailed all the way past the third baseman allowing Fairless to take second base.

Lilley followed and sent the Ahoskie fans home happy with a long double to left field for the game-winning walk-off hit and the one-run victory.”

“This keeps us alive for the conference and the wild card,” said Ahoskie assistant coach Nathan Dilday, “but we’ve got to have some help from other teams.

“And we’ve got to win out,” he added, “because any loss puts a damper on things.”

Ahoskie’s juniors play their final regular-season home game Wednesday night at Hertford County High field in a 7 p.m. start against Elizabeth City.