Bears blank Northeastern

Published 5:19 pm Sunday, May 4, 2014

AHOSKIE – Bryan Merritt hurled a three-hit shutout and Austin Hurdle stroked the first-ever home run of his high school career as Hertford County High beat Northeastern High 10-0 in Northeastern Coastal Conference baseball action here Thursday night.

The Bears opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the first.  Eric Ortiz smacked a single to right field and Dylan Waterfield drew a base-on-balls.  Both players moved up into scoring position on a Brandon Terry ground out.  Ryan Weaver then got the second walk of the game to load the bases.  Ortiz and Waterfield then scored when Merritt smashed a two-run double to left.  Weaver held at third but came home one batter later on Austin Hurdle’s RBI ground out that gave the Bears a 3-0 lead after one complete inning of play.

The Eagles tried to get to Merritt in the top of the third inning, but instead, left the bases loaded without plating a run.

Meanwhile, Hertford County scored two more runs in the bottom of the frame.  Merritt walked just before Hurdle rocked a two-one count fastball over the leftfield fence for a two-run home run and a 5-0 Hertford County lead after three innings.  It was the first home run of Hurdle’s high school career.

The Bears added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.  J.J. Gatling opened with a walk and stole second base.  Two more walks were issued to Ortiz and Waterfield to load the bases full of Bears. Terry then stroked a sacrifice fly ball to score Gatling as both Ortiz and Waterfield moved up one base on the double-steal.  Ryan Weaver grabbed his first RBI of the game with a two-run double to straightaway center field that scored Ortiz and Waterfield, but Weaver was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, which ended the inning.  Hertford County now led it 8-0 after four innings.

Hertford County got its last two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Merritt singled to center and Hurdle singled to left.  Both runners pulled off the game’s second double-steal followed by Ackerman Grace drawing a walk to load the bases.  Merritt and Hurdle scored when Slade Cowan reached on an error as the Eagle shortstop made a wild throw to home plate that failed to get the runner and the game ended after five innings thanks to the ten-run rule.

Merritt pitched five innings to get the win allowing no runs on three hits with four strikeouts.

The Bears had six hits and took advantage of receiving nine walks and one Eagle error.   Hurdle had two hits and drove in three runs to lead Hertford County batting.  Merritt had two hits and two RBI.  Weaver had one hit and two RBI white Ortiz had one hit and Terry had one RBI.

“We put the bats on the ball tonight,” said HertfordCounty coach Chris Towell.  “Austin and Bryan had big hits for us and Bryan pitched a great game for us which were just what we needed after being off for a week.  We wanted to play this game tonight and not have a lot of games bunched up together next week.

Hertford County is now 13-5 and 4-5 in conference play.  The Bears hosted Edenton on Friday night and will travel to Barco on Tuesday to face Currituck County at 7  p.m.