Windsor juniors take “Backyard Battle”

Published 7:22 am Tuesday, June 4, 2013

WINDSOR – This wasn’t your typical game, emotionally or otherwise.

With a pair of teams loaded with players from area high schools, Post-37 held off a seventh inning rally and beat Ahoskie Post-102, 4-3, in a junior American Legion baseball game here Friday night.

RobersonvilleSouthCreekHigh School battery mates Brandon Battle and Shay Langley combined for the complete game win. With Battle on the mound and Langley catching him, the pair gave up just three runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

In the other dugout, young Jarrett Harrell of Lawrence Academy was just as durable, despite being saddled with the loss. The eighth-grader went six innings and surrendered three runs on five hits with no base-on-balls or strikeouts. Bryan Merritt relieved Harrell in the sixth inning.

“It’s a rivalry,” said Windsor coach Bobby Harmon. “I knew it was going to come down to a close game but I like the way our kids never hung their heads and Brandon, he was just phenomenal on the mound.”

“He’s got a bulldog attitude,” added Harmon.

Part of that ‘bulldog attitude’ kept Ahoskie off the scoreboard in the first inning. Parker Cline stroked a one-out single to right field in the top of the frame to get things going. Later, an Eric Ortiz single up-the-middle put runners on first and second with two out and both moved into scoring position following a wild pitch. Bryan Merritt then walked to load the bases. But Battle escaped trouble on the mound thanks to a force-out, leaving the game scoreless after a half-inning.

Windsor was able to capitalize in their half of the frame. Matthew Weaver opened with a walk and Battle helped his own cause with a single to right field that moved Weaver all the way to third. Cody Matthews then got an RBI single to right that scored Weaver, but the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice erasing Battle.  With two outs Alex Harmon walked to re-load the bases, but a strikeout ended the inning with three on like the other half-inning, except that Windsor had a one-run lead.

Post-37 added to their total in the bottom of the second when Michael Scott walked, stole second, went to third on a Weaver groundout and scored when Battle singled to left field. It was 2-0, Windsor, after two complete.

No more scoring came until the top of the fourth when Ahoskie tied the score. Trey Futrell reached on a one-out fielder’s choice, went to second on Tyler Small’s base-hit to right and scored later when Everett Sawyer lashed a base hit to left. Small moved to third on the play and scored to tie the game when the next batter hit a routine fly ball that was dropped in left field for an error.

Windsor got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth when Scott reached on an error, was sacrificed to second on Javier Pagola’s groundout  and came home via a Weaver double to left field. It was 3-2, Windsor, after four.

Post-37 scored what proved to be an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Merritt relieved Harrell and watched as Scott reached on a two-base error. Scott was then sacrificed to third, and came home when Weaver reached on still another Ahoskie error. Windsor was three outs away from a rivalry win.

But Ahoskie did not go quietly. In the top of the seventh, Jones reached on a one-out error.  He was then lifted for pinch-runner, Tyler Pope, who scored all the way from first base when Brandon Terry doubled all the way to the fence in left. Ahoskie was now within one at, 4-3.

A wild pitch moved Terry to third. Eric Ortiz then walked to put runners on the corners. However, Battle bore down and struck out the last two batters leaving Ahoskie a run short and evening their overall record to 3-3 with their first conference loss.

“We don’t play the season for one game,” said Ahoskie coach Brandon Matthews, downplaying the rivalry angle. “I want us to take two, or three, from every conference team we play.”

“Right now we’re battling thru some injuries,” he added. “But I couldn’t be prouder of all seventeen of my guys and the way they played tonight. We get a play here or there and it’s a totally different game.”

“Ahoskie plays the right way,” said Harmon. “I knew they would come out tough, but we just beat out a lot of plays down the line tonight.”

Windsor raised its record to 2-0 overall and in conference entering a weekend double-header with Currituck.  Ahoskie will be at home tonight (Tuesday) against Elizabeth City in a 7 p.m. game.