Bears blank Aces

Published 8:24 am Thursday, March 14, 2013

EDENTON – Ackerman Grace hurled a one-hit shutout and the Bears bats backed up his effort as Hertford County High won its Northeastern Coastal Conference opener here Monday night, blanking J.A. Holmes, 4-0 at Hicks Field.

The Bears opened their scoring with two runs in the top of the third inning. Dylan Waterfield got things rolling with an infield single and stole second. Eric Ortiz then reached on an error, allowing Waterfield to race home with the game’s first run. Ortiz would later steal second and third before Bryan Merritt walked to put runners on the corners. Coach Chris Towell then called for the double steal and the Bears executed it perfectly. The Aces second baseman bobbled the ball and threw home late; allowing Ortiz to slide in just under the tag and Hertford County had a 2-0 lead that held up thru the third.

The Bears added another run in the top of the fifth. Clay Barmer would single and steal second to get into scoring position before a passed ball moved him to third and another one allowed him to race home with the game’s third run.

Hertford County’s final run came in the top of the sixth inning. Grace got on base when he took one for the team after getting hit by a pitch.  He would go on to steal second and then took third on a Brandon Terry infield single. Edenton then tried a pick-off move, but a wild throw by the third baseman allowed Grace to slide safely home with the final run of the evening.

Grace pitched seven innings for the win, allowing no runs on one hit with ten strikeouts. The victory raised his record on the season to 2-0.

Hertford County was held to just four hits by sharp Edenton pitching, but the Bears were able to capitalize thanks to playing “small ball”: alert base running and making the most of Edenton’s miscues.

“This was a good way to start the conference season,” said Bears coach Towell. “We got a good opening win on the road. Ackerman pitched a great game for us and we took advantage of their mistakes.

“We did a good job of putting the ball in play,” he added. “And we also played some great defense.

Hertford County is now 2-1 and picks up their first road win after stubbing their spikes at Nash Central last week, 12-1. The Bears will continue NCC play at home Friday at 7 p.m. when they host Northeastern.