Grace no-hits Nash Central

Published 5:04 pm Sunday, March 16, 2014

AHOSKIE – Ackerman Grace pitched a no-hitter and Hertford County High pounded out ten hits as the Bears beat Nash Central 11-1 in a non-conference baseball game here Thursday night.

Hertford County opened the scoring with four runs in the bottom of the first inning.  Leadoff batter J.J. Gatling followed by Eric Ortiz opened the night by drawing back-to-back walks.  Gatling then scored on a Brandon Terry RBI single to left field while Ortiz scored on a Bryan Merritt RBI double the opposite way to right field. Pinch-runner Tyler Pope, running for Terry, was held at third on the two-bagger, but scored on a Ryan Weaver groundout.  Merritt later scored on another groundout, this one by Austin Hurdle, giving the Bears a 4-0 lead after the first full inning of play.

The Bears added two more runs in the bottom of the second inning when Dylan Waterfield singled to center and went to second on a Gatling sacrifice bunt.  Ortiz then singled thru the drawn-in infield to advance Waterfield to third and after Terry walked the bases were loaded with Bears.  Waterfield and Ortiz both scored on Merritt’s two-run single to right field to up the Bears’ bulge to 6-0 with just two innings in the books.

Nash Central scored its only run of the game, unearned, on a Matt Sikes RBI groundout for a 6-1 Hertford County lead after two-and-a-half.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Bears plated five more runs. Hurdle walked and was pulled for pinch-runner, Pope.  Pope went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Grace drove one over the glove of the second baseman into centerfield for an RBI.  Grace took second on the throw home. Chris Adams and Waterfield were both hit-by-pitches to load the bases and Grace and Adams scored on Gatling’s two-run single to left.  Both Gatling and Waterfield moved into scoring position thanks to a Bulldog wild pitch, but then Ortiz walked and the sacks were full of Bears once more.  Waterfield and Gatling came home when Terry smacked a two-run single to centerfield, and that was good enough to end the game after five innings on the ten-run rule with Hertford County claiming an 11-1 final.

Grace pitched five innings for the win, allowing no hits and five strikeouts.  Only seven Nash Central runners reached base: three walks, three on errors, and one hit batsman.

Hertford County strung together ten hits led by Terry with two hits and he also drove in three runs.  Merritt had two hits and three RBI as well while Grace had two hits and one run driven in.  Waterfield had two hits, Gatling had a hit and two RBI and Ortiz had one hit.

“Ackerman pitched a great game,” said Bears coach Chris Towell. “You can’t pitch better than that.  He set the tone for us on the mound and we did a great job of hitting and fielding behind him.”

“We took advantage of their mistakes and it makes it nice when seniors step up and lead by example because this is what happens when hard work pays off,” he added.

HertfordCounty raises its record to 3-0 and played Gates County Friday evening.  The Bears will play their first Northeastern Coastal Conference game Tuesday night at home when they host First Flight with first pitch set for 7 p.m. in the league opener.