Ahoskie keeps winning

Published 3:10 pm Friday, July 1, 2011

AHOSKIE – Finish with a flourish.

Like the end of a John Philip Sousa Fourth of July symphony the Ahoskie Post 102 American Legion junior baseball team closed out their home schedule with baseball fireworks.

The result was a 9-4 win over Elizabeth City and left Ahoskie very much in the thick of it for the conference championship and a trip to the playoffs in Wilson.

Shawn Holloway went 4-for-7 and scored two runs. Perry Wynns was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs driven in while Patrick Castelloe was 2-for-4 and also had two RBIs.

Brandon Stifflemire scored three runs while Darren Armstrong crossed the plate twice.

All of this backed up the six-hit pitching of Jesse White who gave up four runs, but had six strikeouts and walked just one batter.

Ahoskie had two chances to blow open a close game.

First, in the fifth inning, when they had two runners in scoring position and nobody out and finally in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with no outs.

That’s when they rose to the occasion, scoring five runs and locking up their ninth league win of the year against five losses and upping their overall mark to 12-7.

“We didn’t execute on a couple of squeeze plays and a couple of hit-and-runs back there in the fifth,” said assistant coach Nathan Dilday, “but luckily there in the last inning we got the bases loaded, put the ball in play and let (the other team) make the mistakes.

“It was a good thing we scored those runs there at the end,” he added, “because if not, we might still be playing the way the momentum was shifting.”

Ahoskie got on the board first with a run in the second inning and three more in the third before Elizabeth City every broke through, and White even carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

In the second, Stifflemire walked and was sacrificed to second base before, one out later, Castelloe drove him home for a 1-0 Ahoskie lead.

In the third, Holloway got a base hit to right field.  Armstrong followed reaching on a two-base Elizabeth City fielding error that allowed Holloway to reach third.  Zack Eubanks then hit a dribbler through the infield and Holloway beat the throw home.

The next batter, Wynns, singled into the gap in right-center, scoring Armstrong. Two outs later, White helped his own cause with a double to the wall in center that scored Stifflemire, but White was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.

Elizabeth City finally got to White and broke their scoring drought with a run in the top of the fifth, but trailed by three, 4-1.

In the top of the sixth, the visitors scratched out another run to pull within two, but White got a strike out and a fly-out to end the threat and keep Post 102 in front by two.

Then came the all-important sixth frame, when Ahoskie batted around sending 11 men to the plate, scoring five runs and putting the game away.

Ryan Lilley led off with a base on balls and went to second on Holloway’s fourth straight hit of the night.  Armstrong followed with an infield single to load the bases and Lilley scored two pitches later on a passed ball.

One out later, Wynns got his third hit of the night to drive in Holloway.  Stifflemire came next, reaching on a two-base Elizabeth City fielding error that brought home pinch-runner, D’Andre Phelps for a 7-2 lead.

After White walked to reload the bases, Ahoskie would score again one out later on Castelloe’s second RBI of the night.  Back to the top of the order, Lilley delivered the final run of the night on a single to center field.

Elizabeth City tried to seize the momentum as back-to-back base hits in the top of the seventh put runners on first and second.

A run scored next on a groundout, but the play proved costly for the Wildcats as a base-running interference call turned it into a double play.  Elizabeth City got one more run before White wrapped thing out by inducing a fly-out.

Ahoskie played its final conference game last night (Friday) against Nash Central, but the result was not in by press time. They close the regular season tonight (Saturday) with a pair of non-conference games at Edenton.

“We’re not in the driver’s seat,” said Dilday, “and we need a little help from other teams, but if we keep winning we’ve got a chance.”