Harris, Hawks top GC
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on May 2, 2004 2:03 AM
LAGRANGE -- Heading into crucial home games this week with fellow Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference contenders -- North Pitt and SouthWest Edgecombe -- the North Lenoir baseball team could not afford a let down against an upset-minded Greene Central.
Thanks to some control pitching by Shane Harris and the Hawks' third-straight errorless game, North Lenoir defeated the Rams 5-1 will enter next week right in the thick of the EPC title race.
North Lenoir (13-8 overall) improved to 5-2 in conference play, tied with North Pitt for second place and one game behind SouthWest. South Lenoir lurks in third at 4-3. Only two of the four teams will make the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.
With only two seniors and three freshman starters, Hawks' coach Jim Montague is pleased with his team's ability to be in this situation down the stretch.
"Right now we are contenders to go to the playoffs and we are finding a way to win games. It's a very balanced conference," North Lenoir coach Jim Montague said. "I'm tickled to death that we've gone this far.
"We've got six starters that are first-year players on the varsity level and right now they've got a chance to win this conference."
The Hawks were out-hit 7-3 on Friday as the Rams (7-13-1, 1-6 EPC) jumped out of the gate in the top of the first inning after a sacrifice fly by Joseph Wade scored Hunter Chase.
Harris, one of the Hawks' seniors, did not allow any runs the rest of the way and finished the game with no walks and faced just three, three-ball counts. Harris scattered seven hits, while the defense played errorless behind him.
Conversely, Greene Central starter Jordy Davis, despite yielding just three hits, was hurt by three Ram errors that led to three unearned runs. In the top of the first, North Lenoir's Josh Williams walked, stole second, then scored on an infield error.
The Hawks posted two more runs in the second when Brandon Sutton began the two-out rally by reaching on a fielders choice, then advancing to second on Andrew Pope's single to right. An infield miscue allowed Sutton to score, while courtesy runner Brandon Johnson raced home on a throw to second on a successful double-steal attempt.
"We didn't swing the bats bad tonight, but we didn't make the plays in the field when we had to," Greene Central coach Russell Brann said. "Jordy didn't pitch bad, but we've got to help him out."
Fifth inning errors plagued Davis, who walked both Williams and Jacob Alphin. Both eventually came around to score insurance runs on Harris and Brian Smith's clutch RBI singles. Donald Beal added a key, sacrifice bunt in the inning -- the Hawks' second of the game.
"We've got to play small ball and do some bunting, because we don't have a batting average I want to talk to anybody about," Montague said. "It helps when you know the players you've got and know what they can and can't do."
Brann is hoping his team can finish strong down the stretch and not only improve their conference mark but play the spoiler role against the EPC front-runners.
"We want to come out and redeem ourselves a little bit," Brann said. "I know we can play better than we are playing, and we showed it in the Easter tournament. We are going to try to end on a positive note and enjoy being a spoiler for somebody."
The Rams travel to SouthWest Edgecombe on Tuesday, while the Hawks host North Pitt.
G. Central 100 000 0 -- 1 7 3
N. Lenoir 120 020 x -- 5 3 0
Leading hitters -- Greene Central -- Hunter Chase 2-3, run; Joseph Wade 1-3, RBI; Chris Lane 2-3. North Lenoir -- Shane Harris 1-3, RBI; Brian Smith 1-2, RBI; Andrew Pope 1-2, run.
IP H R ER BB SO
Jordy Davis (L) 6 3 5 2 4 5
Travis Rouse 1 0 0 0 0 0
Shane Harris (W) 7 7 1 1 0 2
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