04/08/04 — Baseball -- Rams still struggling

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Baseball -- Rams still struggling

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 8, 2004 2:01 PM

SNOW HILL -- Jordy Davis kept SouthWest Edgecombe guessing for five innings Wednesday evening.

The Greene Central right-hander cleverly mixed his change-up in with a fastball and curveball, and held the visiting Cougars to two hits. Davis and his Ram teammates appeared headed for their first Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference win of the year.

Then, the bottom fell out.

SouthWest Edgecombe pushed five runs (three earned) across in the final two innings and escaped 5-3 on the James R. Fulghum Athletic Complex diamond. The Cougars beat the Rams for the first time in school history and snapped their 19-game skid in the series.

Greene Central is an uncharacteristic 0-3 in the EPC and 4-8-1 overall.

"We don't have confidence right now," Greene Central coach Russell Brann said. "You get ahead, but we're timid and afraid we're going to do something wrong. We've got that mentality right now.

"When you've got a lead, you've got to play like you're ahead and play not to keep from losing."

The Rams owned a 3-0 lead through five innings.

Davis sandwiched a walk between the first two outs in the sixth inning. He issued a free pass to designated hitter Del Smith, which set the table for Thomas Evans.

Evans worked Davis to a 2-1 count and slapped a pitch deep to left field, which was misjudged by a Rams outfielder. The ball bounced just out of his reach toward the fence as Davis plated two runs with the double.

"That was awesome," SouthWest coach Bruce Rhodes said.

Bradley Walters plated Evans for the 3-3 tie with a sharply-hit single to left field. Rams first baseman Matthew Tyndall halted the two-out spurt with a superb diving catch on Eddie Vincek's ground ball and flipped it to Davis, who tagged the base for the out.

An infield error gave the Rams much-needed life in the sixth. However, they failed to score as Cougar outfielders Walters (center) and Vincek (right) each made a superb on-the-run grab.

SouthWest (9-3, 2-1 EPC) put together another two-out rally in the seventh. Jonathan Proctor singled up the middle and moved to second on Andrew Joyner's base hit to right center field.

Proctor got hung up between second and third, but the Rams committed an error which allowed Proctor to safely take third. He scored when Lee Hawkins belted an infield hit down the third-base line.

Hawkins and Joyner perfectly executed the double steal with Smith at the plate. Hawkins kept the Rams defense chasing him long enough to allow Joyner to score before getting tagged out.

"That same old devil got us tonight," Brann said. "It seems like we've been hurt every time this year with two outs. We've lost several ball games that were close because with two outs we didn't make the play.

"Great plays very seldom win ball games, but routine plays ... we're not getting the job done right now."

SouthWest picked up five hits in the final two innings combined and had been held scoreless for 12 consecutive innings until the sixth. The Cougars were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first three innings.

"He (Davis) was throwing off-speed and I told them to start taking (pitches)," Rhodes said. "If he throws a ball, keep taking until we get a strike. That started helping us at the end and gave us a little bit more confidence at the plate.

"Our defense kept us in there and our pitching kept us in there."

But Proctor, a left-hander, struggled in the second inning. Greene Central capitalized on two walks and grabbed a 2-0 lead on back-to-back singles by Jordy Grady and Jamie Ham.

The Rams added a single run in the sixth against Proctor. Catcher Joe Wade picked up his only hit, an RBI single up the middle to score Hunter Chase. Chase had led off the inning with a single.

Proctor gave way to Andrew Joyner late in the fifth. Joyner provided 2 1/3 innings of one-strikeout, one-hit relief and earned his first mound win of the season.

"We're not going to quit," Brann said. "We're going to keep working and it will get better."

The Rams return to action Saturday against J.H. Rose in the annual Jimmie R. Grimsley Hot Stove League tournament at Guy Smith Stadium. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

SW Edgecombe 000 003 2 -- 5 6 1

Greene Central 020 010 0 -- 3 5 3

Leading hitters -- Greene Central -- Joe Wade 1-3, RBI; Jordy Grady 1-3, RBI; Jamie Ham 1-3, RBI. SW Edgecombe -- Bradley Walters 2-3; Thomas Evans 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Lee Hawkins 1-4, RBI.

E -- Williamson, Grady 2, Edmondson. DP -- G. Central 1. LOB -- G. Central 8, SW Edgecombe 5. SH -- Williamson. SB -- Joyner 2.


SW Edgecombe

Proctor 4 2/3 4 3 3 4 2

Joyner (W, 1-0) 2 1/3 1 0 0 1 1

Greene Central

Davis (L, 2-2) 7 6 5 3 2 5

WP -- Proctor 2, Joyner. PB -- Wade. HBP -- Whitley (by Proctor).