Ridgecroft wins TIC tournament opener

Published 10:31 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

AHOSKIE – Nick Hoggard used his arm and his bat to propel Ridgecroft School to a 7-1 opening round win here Tuesday over Northeast Academy in the Tarheel Independent Conference baseball tournament.

The senior right-hander held the Eagles to just two hits over seven innings and at the dish he was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and three runs scored.

The win sent the Rams into the semi-finals against Lawrence Academy – whom they’d just played last Thursday, falling 4-3 in a closely played contest.

“We threw our best guy today because you play them one game at a time, and this was important for state seeding, because it could only hurt us to lose this game,” said Ram coach Joe Maione.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, with eight errors committed between the two teams.

With two on in the first, Hoggard delivered the first two Ram runs of the game with a double to centerfield. Wyatt Whitley followed with another two-bagger scoring Hoggard and it was 3-0, Ridgecroft, after one inning of baseball.

The Eagles got one back in the top of the second when Austin Bradley reached thanks to a two-base Rams error. He then stole third base and came home on the same play thanks to a second Ridgecroft miscue. It was 3-1, Rams, after two.

Northeast then became the generous ones. Hoggard singled to open the bottom of the third. He then stole second took third on an error, and scored on the innings’ second error when Whitley reached base. Whitley later scored on a wild pitch and a third run was delivered on Lane Slachta’s two-out base hit. It was now 6-1, Rams.

The final run of the game came in the fourth when Hoggard reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and scored on Whitley’s second double of the day. Neither team scored in the final three innings.

Hoggard earned the win going seven innings and giving up a run, two hits, and thanks to his knuckleball, struck out ten with no walks. Kevin Taylor took the loss for Northeast going the distance also giving up seven runs on eight hits, and striking out three.

Slachta, Whitley, and Hoggard each collected two hits each for the Rams with Whitley driving in three runs.

“We got out-hit,” said Northeast coach Billy-Boy Bridgers. “Our bats just bled out.”

While the Rams continued in the tournament, Northeast was expected to make the independent school state playoffs as a wild-card.