North Moore Splits in Conference Baseball
North Moore, behind the four-hit pitching of Steven Davis, claimed a 10-inning 3-1 victory at Jordan-Matthews Friday night. Davis went the distance in a gutsy performance that saw him strike out 20 and walk five.
Tuesday, it was the Mustangs' turn to be on the losing side of a heartbreaker, as visiting Thomasville defeated the Mustangs 7-6.
Both games were Yadkin Valley Conference games, leaving the Mustangs sporting a 3-3 mark in league play (3-6 overall).
In Friday's game against the Jets, the score was tied 1-1 in the top of the 10th inning when center fielder Jerome Maness drew a walk with one out. The next batter, Davis, was walked intentionally. Two batters later designated hitter Chris Wolf was also given an intentional pass to fill the bases with two out. Left fielder Shad Painter then came through with a double that scored Maness and Davis to give the Mustangs a 3-1 lead.
Davis made the only North Moore lead of the night stand-up by striking out the Jets in order in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Jordan-Matthews drew first blood in a game that quickly turned into a near classic pitching duel between Davis and the Jets' Preston Stackhouse. Michael Colletta drew a walk in the bottom of the third inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He scored on a Stephen Lask single that gave Jordan-Matthews a 1-0 lead.
The Mustangs manufactured a run in the top of the sixth to set up the dramatic extra-inning finish. Maness singled with one out and managed to reach third on an error. Third baseman Dustin Martin drove Maness in with a sacrifice fly to center that made the score 1-1.
North Moore had threatened in the first inning when Davis hit a two-out double. The Mustangs threatened again in the eighth inning when Maness drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a single by Davis. But both batters were thrown out on subsequent ground balls.
Davis pitched out of a two-on one-out jam in the J-M half of the eighth inning by striking out the next two batters.
J-M's Stackhouse allowed only four hits and one run while striking out 13 before being lifted after the ninth inning.
First baseman J. T. Garner collected the only other Mustang hit with a single in the seventh inning.
The 7-6 loss against Thomasville (3-4, 1-3 conference) Tuesday was a horse of a different color. It started out as a slugging contest, turned into a defensive struggle, and became a comedy of base-running errors that almost paid off before ultimately turning into a disaster on the base paths that brought a promising rally to an abrupt and tragic end.
North Moore trailed 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning after Thomasville manufactured a go-ahead run in the top of the inning. Chris Wolfe led off with a double. Two batters later Lyle Barnett drew a walk that should have put the Mustangs in a threatening position with two on and only one out.
The base runner hustled to first and kept going while the man on second took off for third. Barnett was thrown out going for second and Wolfe was thrown out trying to make it home on the same play. Suddenly the game was over without another pitch being thrown.
Strangeness abounded on the base paths in the latter stages of the game. Twice North Moore runners were apparently caught at first by pickoff throws only to escape and claim a stolen base after making it to second on the ensuing rundown. The second instance, in the sixth inning, was followed by a successful two-out double steal.
The success in amassing four stolen bases in two innings on Thomasville's relief pitcher may have prompted a coaching decision to go for broke with the game on the line and the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup due up. However, head coach Bob Collins was not available for comment after the game.
The Mustangs had a promising start in the game. Starting pitcher Jerome Maness pitched well in the first inning, striking out one and walking one. He subsequently picked off the lone base runner for the third out.
Maness led off the North Moore half of the inning by drawing a walk and stealing second. Catcher Sean Gilmore was hit by a pitch, giving the Mustangs runners on first and second with no outs. Steven Davis then blasted a three-run homer to give North Moore a 3-0 lead.
Two batters later, right fielder Chris Wolfe belted one over the left-field fence to make it a 4-0 game.
Thomasville pushed three runs across the plate in the second inning to make it a 4-3 game in favor of the Mustangs. The Bulldogs tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the third by manufacturing a run off Davis, who had come in to relieve Maness.
Davis singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the third. Dustin Martin followed with a single to right, but Davis was thrown out trying to reach third. Harold Chandler singled to right with two out, advancing Martin to second. Successive walks to Barnett and J. T. Garner, the second walk with the bases loaded, brought Martin home and gave North Moore a 5-4 lead. The lead did not hold up. Thomasville touched Garner, the Mustangs' third pitcher of the game, for two runs in the top of the fourth inning to retake the lead by a score of 6-5.
Garner came in to relieve Davis, who had developed a sore elbow in his inning of relief. Garner settled down after the fourth and held the Bulldogs scoreless the next two innings.
Chandler singled to left with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. He appeared to be picked off of first, but managed to beat the ensuing rundown and slide safely into second. Chandler then made it to third on a Barnett grounder to first, and finally scored on a passed ball to knot the score at 6-6.
North Moore almost manufactured another run under similar circumstances in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gilmore drew a two-out walk.
Then, after nearly being picked off at first, he made it to second base on another rundown failure by Thomasville.
Davis, the next batter, drew a walk to give the Mustangs runners at first and second. A double steal made it runners on second and third. But both runners were left stranded when the next batter grounded out.
Thomasville scored the winning run when Abrams-Thomas scored from third.
Davis and Wolfe led the North Moore offense with a homer each.
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