Bears win baseball opener

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, March 5, 2013

AHOSKIE – Ackerman Grace and Bryan Merritt combine to pitch a no-hitter and the Bears pound out 10 hits as Hertford County High beat Gates County High 12-1 in the Bears’ baseball season opener here Friday night.

The Bears opened the scoring with 2 runs in the bottom of the first inning. After Eric Ortiz singled to right field Merritt and Grace both walked to load the bases. Ortiz then scored the first Hertford County run of the year as Tucker Warren got the season’s first RBI when he drew a bases-loaded walk. Clay Barmer then reached first on catcher’s interference, scoring Merritt and the Bears would go on to lead it 2-0 after one full inning of play.

Gate sCounty scored its only run of the game in the top of the second inning. River Hicks walked and then got in scoring position by stealing second. Hicks would later score when Everett Sawyer reached second on a two-base error and that cut the Hertford County lead to 2-1 going into the bottom of the frame.

The Bears answered back with a pair of runs in their half of the inning. Ortiz reached second on a two-base error by the Red Barons and later advanced to third on a Merritt single to right field. Coach Chris Towell then put the double-steal on and as Merritt swiped second Ortiz stole home for Hertford County’s third run of the game. Merritt advanced to third on the throw home and scored on Grace’s infield single for a run-batted-in. The Bears led it 4-1 after two.

HertfordCounty added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Bears collected back-to-back infield singles. Merritt got one to drop in centerfield and Grace got an infield single to put two aboard. Brandon Terry then doubled to left field scoring Merritt but Grace was held up at third.  Grace later came home on a ground-out RBI by Ryan Weaver, allowing Terry to take third. Barmer then got an infield safety to score Terry. Brandon Staton followed with the fifth hit of the inning and he would later steal second base while Barmer took third. However, the Bears couldn’t get more across the dish as a groundout ended the inning, but with the home team ahead 7-1 after five.

Hertford County scored its final five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ortiz singled to center followed by back-to-back base-on-balls by Merritt and Grace to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Warren scored Ortiz and Terry followed with the third walk of the inning to re-load the bases. Weaver, who had just finished his basketball season three days earlier, then hit a grand-slam home run over the left field fence to end the game after six innings.

Grace pitched four innings for the win allowing a run on no hits with five strikeouts. Merritt pitched the final two innings allowing no runs, no hits, and he had three strikeouts. Stephen Umphlett pitched five innings for Gates County and absorbed the loss.

Hertford County had ten hits with Ortiz, Merritt, and Grace accounting for two each. Weaver had one hit and five RBI’s while Warren had one hit and drove in two runs. Barmer and Staton each had one hit.

Said Bears head coach Towell after the game, “We really played well today. We put the ball in play and forced Gates County to make plays. Ackerman pitched four strong innings and Bryan came on and threw the ball just as well.”

“All 12 guys on the team played hard,” he added, “and we will try to improve each game.”

Hertford County is 1-0 and will play Northampton County back at home today (Tuesday) at 4:30 p.m. Gates County falls to 0-2.