03/16/05 — Gators nip N. Duplin in Carolina 1-A opener

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Gators nip N. Duplin in Carolina 1-A opener

Published in Sports on March 16, 2005 2:06 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- Great pitching will always dominate hitting. Fans in Seven Springs were treated to exceptional performances by both North Duplin and Spring Creek hurlers, as the Gators came from behind to edge the Rebels, 4-3.

"It was great to see us come back and win our first (Carolina 1-A) conference game," said coach Roger May. "Every conference game is huge and I was glad to see that we were ready to play."

Spring Creek's record now stands at 2-3, 1-0. North Duplin's slate is 2-3, 0-1. "This is a big week for us," said May. Weather permitting, we'll play Greene Central today, and go to Princeton Friday."

Starters Brad Lloyd and Derek Kirby were both very stingy in their offerings. Lloyd in 5 2/3 innings, only allowed two hits, both to catcher Jed Potter. Although Kirby allowed five hits, he did not allow an earned run.

Good execution of baseball fundamentals gave Spring Creek an early 1-0 lead. Potter led off the game with a single, and went to second on an error. He was sacrificed to third, and came home on Devin Graves fly to left field.

North Duplin threatened in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, but came away with only two runs for their efforts. The Rebels came up with six of their seven hits on the night during those frames, but left an equal number of runners stranded on the basepaths.

Singles by Wade Sasser and Matt Brasswell brought home Billy Mello and Josh Marquez in the second. Marquez scored the Rebels' final run as he was driven in by a Mello single an inning later.

Spring Creek also missed out on their share of scoring opportunities. The Gators left at least one runner on base in every inning. They had the bases loaded in the fourth with only one out, only to have Lloyd strike out the next two hitters. In the fifth, Potter was gunned down at the plate on a perfect throw from shortstop Doug Lloyd to Marquez.

Lloyd tired in the sixth. He left with two outs, but had walked the bases full. Reliever Sterling Grice's first pitch to Potter was hit up against the right center field wall for a triple. Daniel Correll, Timothy Rogers, and Michael Russell came home with the go ahead runs.

North Duplin gave it one last shot to tie the game in the seventh. Brad Lloyd led off with a single, and went to second on a throwing error. It took Groves, on in relief of Anthony Brogden, only nine pitches to retire the side on a strikeout, a pop foul to Potter, and a grounder back to him, that he took unassisted to end the game.

"I was very pleased with our pitching," said May. "Kirby did a great job in the 70 pitches he threw. Brogden has a lot of tools. Graves will also be one of our workhorses, who will be starting against Princeton."

"As coaches, we need to be better teachers. We've got a lot of work to do, as we are really struggling at the plate."

Rebel coach John Avant had no complaints about his charges' efforts.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win," he said. "Lloyd pitched a great game, especially for so early in the season."

North Duplin will travel to Kenly on Friday afternoon to meet North Johnston.