Snow Hill's struggle continues
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on June 21, 2004 1:55 PM
SNOW HILL -- Non-division losses aren't bothering veteran Snow Hill Post 94 American Legion coach James "Rabbit" Fulghum these days. But the manner in which his team is losing has Fulghum squirming in the dugout.
The inability to consistently throw strikes surfaced throughout Sunday evening's contest against Area I East non-division opponent Wilson Post 13. Two Snow Hill relievers struggled to find the strike zone and combined for six critical walks in the ninth inning.
The free passes, along with Tim Bardin's seventh-inning home run, lifted Wilson to a 9-5 win on the James R. Fulghum Athletic Complex diamond. Post 13 skipper Rusty Dail, now in his second season, claimed his first-ever career victory in three tries against Post 94.
"We just couldn't throw a strike at the end," Fulghum said.
Tied at 3-3 after eight innings, Snow Hill left-hander Travis Rouse -- in relief of starter Jordy Grady -- issued a lead-off walk to Thomas Edmondson. Rouse retired the next batter on a groundout, which brought Bardin to the plate.
Fulghum opted for the intentional walk in hopes of getting a double-play grounder. Rouse walked pinch-hitter David Bunn to load the bases. Post 13 broke the tie on Andrew Joyner's sacrifice fly ball that Snow Hill's Mark Ross caught in foul territory.
Rouse departed in favor of Blake Taylor. The right-hander yielded a pair of bases-loaded walks pushed Wilson's advantage to 6-3. Bobby Hawkins drove in two runs with a single to shallow right center field and an infield error boosted Post 13's advantage to 9-3.
"Taylor has thrown good for us all year," Fulghum said. "That's the first time he's failed."
Snow Hill (5-6) pushed two runs across in its half of the ninth. Taylor plated one run with a groundout, while Mark Ross scored the other on a fielder's choice ground ball.
"This is the way it's been for us all year," Dail said of the late-game comeback.
Wilson (7-7) had plenty of chances to take control early.
Dail's team put 12 runners on base in the first six innings but failed to score. Post 13 batted 2-for-10 with those players in scoring position and stranded five runners at either second or third base. Post 94 catcher Joseph Wade gunned down Tyler Goff in the sixth when he attempted to take third on a wild pitch. Goff doubled to lead off the inning.
Grady allowed seven hits during that six-inning stretch and most of the rallies started with two-out base hits.
"We've been playing like this the last four or five games where we've gotten men on base, but couldn't get the big hit," said Dail, whose team is 0-4 in North Division play. "We've been getting hits with two outs and nobody on. We've just been hitting a lot of balls to people."
Grady encountered more trouble in the seventh. He surrendered a one-out single to Justin Batts and hit Lee Hawkins. Rouse took over for Grady and knew he was in trouble as soon as he threw an 0-1 change-up to Bardin.
The pitch started outside, but began moving inside toward the plate. Bardin swung and connected on a three-run home run -- his first of the season and just Post 13's second overall in 14 games.
"That couldn't have come at a better time," Dail said.
The bases-clearing blast tied the game at 3-3 and gave left-handed starter Jake Skinner new life. Skinner gave up to back-to-back walks before Dail put Joyner, a right-hander, on the mound.
Joyner threw a perfect eighth before running into trouble in the ninth.
By then, Post 13 had solidified its comeback and erased memories of a 9-8 loss to Beaufort County just 24 hours earlier.
"We go again tomorrow and that's a conference game," said Fulghum, whose team built a 3-0 lead on several Post 13 errors.
Snow Hill right-hander Blake Herring is expected to throw this evening at Pitt County Post 160, which plays its games at South Central High School. Wilson takes tonight off before hosting Area I West member Kerr Lake at 7 p.m. Tuesday at venerable Fleming Stadium.
Wilson 000 000 306 -- 9 11 5
Snow Hill 001 200 002 -- 5 5 1
Leading hitters -- Wilson -- Jonathan Proctor 1-5, RBI; Allen Corbett 2-4, RBI; Bobby Hawkins 2-6, 2 RBI; Justin Batts 1-4; Lee Hawkins 2-4; Tim Bardin 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Andrew Joyner 1-4, RBI; Tyler Goff 1-3, 2B. Snow Hill -- Travis Rouse 1-1; Matthew Tyndall 1-3, RBI; Joseph Wade 1-3; Jamie Clifton 1-2; Cody Fuquay 1-2, RBI.
LOB -- Snow Hill 10, Wilson 14. SB -- Corbett, Edmondson. SH -- Taylor, Wall. SF -- Joyner.
IP H R ER BB SO
Wilson Post 13
Skinner 62Ú3 4 3 0 4 7
Joyner (W) 21Ú3 1 2 2 2 1
Snow Hill Post 94
Grady 61Ú3 8 2 2 5 3
Rouse (L) 21Ú3 2 5 5 4 0
Taylor 1Ú3 1 2 1 2 1
WP -- Grady, Joyner. HBP -- L. Hawkins (by Grady); James (by Joyner).
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