03/21/04 — Long ball sends Panthers past North Duplin

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Long ball sends Panthers past North Duplin

By David Williams
Published in Sports on March 21, 2004 8:30 AM

CALYPSO -- The long ball made Friday's North Johnston-North Duplin baseball game lose a lot of its suspense early on.

The Panthers smacked three home runs and picked up 10 early runs to easily outdistance the homestanding Rebels 12-4 in a Class 1-A Carolina Conference matchup. Travis Jones and Johnathan Hodge belted out their blasts in the first inning against North Duplin's Sterling Grice, while Jay Edwards ripped a three-run homer off reliever Brad Lloyd in the second inning.

"I've never been a part of a game where my team hit three home runs," said North Johnston coach Tom Jones. "Those are the first home runs we've hit all season."

Those big early blasts gave North Johnston (4-2, 1-0) a commanding 10-0 lead, but North Duplin fought back from losing on the 10-run rule by picking up a run in the second inning and two more in the fourth inning.

In the second, Josh Marquez hit a one-out single to right field and pinch-runner Timmy Evans stole second. Evans scored when Lloyd ripped a pitch to center field, but Lloyd was tagged out after trying to take second.

North Johnston got back in position to end the game early as Adam Stuckey drew a walk ahead of a double by Hodge, putting runners at second and third. A walk loaded the bases and Matt Narron drove in a pair with a single to right field for a 12-1 edge.

The fourth inning saw Charlton Armwood and Ryan Tillman get one-out infield hits for North Duplin (2-5, 0-2). The runners moved up on a ground out by Marquez, and Armwood scored on a wild pitch. Tillman then scored as Lloyd again delivered an RBI hit.

The Rebels picked up another run in the fifth as Matt Braswell drew a two-out walk, came all the way to third on an errant pickoff move and scored on an RBI hit by Phillip Lampron.

North Johnston's Hodge was commanding on the mound, going four innings and striking out five to get the win. Reliever Ashley Moore fanned four in three innings.

"Ashley's more of a power pitcher," said Jones. "I've been telling him he's got to let the defense play and just be around the plate."

Rebels coach Rob Futch was pleased with the team's heart in fighting off an early end to the game, but wished his team could deliver more on the promise he sees.

"We're a lot better than what we're showing," he said. "We are not adjusting at the plate at all. We'll show patience and then swing over our heads. With the pitching talent we have ... but right now the most consistent pitcher is a freshman that doesn't throw hard, but he puts it where I want it. Matt Brawell's our ace and we haven't really seen what he can do yet.

"This is encouraging from one standpoint, but I know we can do better."

Grice took the loss, while Lloyd pitched three innings and struck out six. Rock Bennett threw three good innings in relief for the Rebels.

North Johnston will travel to Farmville Central on Tuesday and will be at home to county rival Princeton on Friday. North Duplin will travel and play the Bulldogs on Tuesday, then go to Ayden-Grifton on Friday.

North Johnston 640 200 0 -- 12 13 2

North Duplin 010 210 0 -- 4 6 3

Leading hitters -- North Johnston -- Matt Narron 3-4, 2 RBI; Adam Verrill 2-4; Travis Jones 1-2, HR, 3 RBI; Brad Holloman 1-2, RBI; Jay Edwards 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Johnathan Hodge 2-2, 2B, HR, 2 RBI. North Duplin -- Brad Lloyd 2-3, RBI; Phillip Lampron 1-3, RBI.


North Johnston

Hodge (W, 1-1) 5 4 3 2 1 5

Moore 3 1 1 0 1 4

North Duplin

Grice (L) 1 4 6 6 2 0

Lloyd 3 5 6 6 5 6

Bennett 3 3 0 0 0 3