05/18/05 — Hawks soar over 'mystery' opponent

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Hawks soar over 'mystery' opponent

Published in Sports on May 18, 2005 1:46 PM

LAGRANGE -- With little known about Swansboro, his team's opponent in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 2A playoffs, North Lenoir starting pitcher Stihl Sowers decided to create his own scouting report Tuesday.

"I watched them take batting practice before the game," Sowers said. "Most of them were pull hitters so I tried to keep the ball on the outside corner of the plate."

Sowers did just that, and also hit the inside corner and every other inch of the plate as well, allowing one hit while striking out 13 as the Hawks buried the Pirates 8-0.

North Lenoir (18-4) will be on the road in Friday's second round when they travel to Cerro Gordo to face Waccamaw Conference champion West Columbus (21-5), which defeated West Bladen 1-0 in the opening round.

"It feels good to get that first game under our belt," North Lenoir coach Jim Montague said. "We experienced some first game jitters offensively, but overall I thought we put together a very solid effort."

Those opening game jitters seemed to exclude Sowers. Nothing fazed the sophomore sensation, even after Swansboro's T. J. Scholl reached on an error and then stole second to start the game.

Sowers proceeded to retire the next nine Pirate hitters before Josh Ervin reached on an infield single leading off the fourth.

By that time, the Hawks held a 2-0 lead on the strength of a Josh Williams solo home run and a Donald Beal RBI single, both in the third.

"I was able to get ahead of the hitters and my defense did a great job behind me," Sowers said. "That made my job a whole lot easier."

Not that he needed any support, but the North Lenoir offense also pushed across two runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth.

Jacob Alphin led off the fourth with a solo homer to fourth, while Brandon Sutton also drove in a run with a base hit.

In the fifth, Taylor Ginn knocked in a run with a single, Williams added an RBI double to the left-center gap, and Alex McGaughy plated two more with his third single of the game.

The Hawks slammed 15 hits in the contest, 12 off Swansboro ace Edgar Huff, who entered the game with a 9-1 mark.

"We knew he liked to get ahead with his fastball so we wanted to be very aggressive at the plate," Montague said. ""It took us a couple of innings to get untracked, but once we did we hit the ball hard."