Bird Battle

Published 9:13 am Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WINDSOR – Sometime the bird-dog has to become the big-dog.

That could have been Bertie’s strategy here Friday night as the Falcons completed a 3-0 week on the baseball diamond with a 9-7 triumph over First Flight in Northeastern Coastal Conference play.

Alex Harmon and Adam Cowand went three-for-four, driving in three and two runs, respectively.  Cody Matthews was two-for-four while Matthew Weaver, Michael Scott, Javier Pagola, and Christian Bland also had hits for the Falcons. In all Bertie banged out a dozen hits.

“I just told the kids this was the first time our bats woke up for the first time in about five games,” said Bertie coach Bobby Harmon.  “That’s as good as we’ve swung the bats since the first of the year; they did a heck of a job.”

Cowand pitched a five-hitter on the mound, surrendering six runs on four hits – including a three-run home run – with five strikeouts and he gave up five base-on-balls.  Matthews came on in relief in the seventh and gave up a run and a hit with one strikeout.

“I told Adam it wasn’t the best performance I’ve ever seen, but it was the gutsiest performance I’ve seen,” added Harmon. “He was a little amped up for the game, but he came back after giving up that home run.”

First Flight got on the board first with an unearned run in the top of the first inning when Noah Breit was hit by a pitch, stole second, reached third on a passed ball and came home on Hayden Dougherty’s sacrifice fly.

Bertie answered with three runs in their half of the frame.  Scott drew a one-out walk, stole second and went to third on Cowand’s base hit.  Cowand was forced at second on Tommy Cowan’s ground ball, but Cowan reached when the ball was thrown away on an error as Scott scored to tie the game.  Harmon followed with a double to left allowing Cowan to reach third.  Cowan scored on Bland’s base hit and Harmon followed on a safety by Matthews for a 3-1 Bertie lead.

First Flight tied the game on a pair of Bertie errors in the top of the second before the Falcons came back to put up another three-spot in the bottom of the inning.

Back-to-back singles by Pagola and Weaver put two Falcons aboard.  Scott then executed a drag bunt to move both into scoring position.  Cowand’s second hit of the game scored Pagola with the go-ahead run and after a walk, Weaver came home on Harmon’s second RBI of the game. Cowand scored on a sac-fly by Bland and Bertie had a 6-3 lead.

After a scoreless top of the third the Falcons went back to work.  Pagola drew a one-out walk and stole second.  Another out later and Scott’s base hit up the middle moved Pagola to third.  Cowand then delivered his third hit of the game that scored Pagola and advanced Scott to third.  Cowan then walked to load the bases before Harmon drove one into the gap in left center scoring Scott and Cowan and staked the Falcons to a 9-3 lead.

The Falcons needed that cushion because in the top of the fourth, after a pair of walks, Devin Daniels sent a rocket to straightaway centerfield that centerfielder Archie Wesson could only watch sail over the fence; good for a three-run homer. It also tightened things down to a 9-6 game after three-and-a-half innings.

Bertie failed to score in their half of the fourth and neither team scored in the fifth and sixth innings.

In the top of the seventh Matthews relieved Cowand and gave up a double to Bailey Lipscomb, who advanced to third on a wild pitch.   Lipscomb would score on Daniel Hardy’s ground out to make it 9-7.  However, Matthews got the next two batters on a groundout and a strikeout to end the game.

“It took me a while to find my control and hit my spots to keep it low,” said Cowand.  “I left one up high and paid for it, but it is what it is.  I didn’t let it get me, I just kept pitching.”

Bertie raises its record to 9-3 and evens their record in the Northeastern Coastal Conference to 3-3.   They’ll step out of league play for a home game with Plymouth Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. before they hit the road Friday for a date with Pasquotank in Elizabeth City.  Game time for that contest will be 7 p.m.