04/02/06 — North Johnston cruises past Rosewood

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North Johnston cruises past Rosewood

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 2, 2006 10:17 AM

In nearly 20 years of coaching, North Johnston's David Lawhon, formerly a long-time coach at Rosewood, knows what it's like to be on both ends of lop-sided games.

His Panthers were on the winning side of a 15-3, five-inning contest at the Eagles' field on Friday.

Lawhon's team was more aggressive at the plate and errorless in the field, while Rosewood -- coached by one of Lawhon's former players, Josh Smith -- seemed passive offensively and made eight errors leading to 13 unearned runs.

Following the game, Lawhon encouraged Smith, a first-year coach, to not be overly discouraged by his teams' performance.

"It's happened to me. It's happened to us several times this year," said Lawhon, in his first year at the helm at North Johnston. "There were just some things that happened during the course of the game that set the tone today. Coach Smith knows you're going to have games like this. I just told him to, 'keep his chin up.'

"They were coming off a big win against Ayden-Grifton, so it's not like they haven't been playing well. They are very sound in the things they do."

Early on, it seemed as it the game was headed into a slug-fest on both sides.

The Panthers got two in the top of the first on Travis Jones' two-out, two-run home run to center against Rosewood starter Dave Martel. The Eagles answered in the bottom of the inning when Taylor Allen smacked a two-out single to left -- scoring Kyle Bunn and Brantley Ellis.

But from there it was all North Johnston.

The Panthers pushed across 10 runs in the second and third innings combined to go up 12-2, sending 20 batters to the plate during the pair of rallies. Rosewood's shaky defense committed four errors in the second and third, while North Johnston executed a squeeze play, ran the bases aggressively and posted four straight hits in the third to cap the outburst.

Dale Price, Garrett Grady and Louis Edwards had two RBI each in the second and third.

"Hats off to North Johnston. They put their bats on the ball and made the plays in the field," Smith said. "We made the pitches we needed to make to get ground balls, but we just didn't make the plays. After a while, pitchers get frustrated and infielders get frustrated. It was just a stressful day."

Meanwhile, the Eagles went down quietly in innings two-through-four. Facing Panthers' starter Josh Parrott, then Jones, who came on in relief in the fourth, Rosewood managed no runs or hits and had just two base runners with both reaching by walks. The Eagles struck out six times overall, fanning four times looking.

After the Panthers tacked on three more unearned runs in the fifth, Rosewood lead-off hitter, Trey Kriger, slugged a solo homer to left center to push the score to its final margin. Ellis provided his second single of the game in the fifth, then moved to second on a wild pitch, but was left stranded as Jones retired the final two batters of the mercy-rule shortened contest.

Parrott picked up the win for North Johnston in three innings of work.

Martel endured the loss for Rosewood, yielding 5 runs (two earned) on two hits with three strikeouts and four walks in 1 2/3 innings. Taylor Allen tossed the final 3 1/3 for the Eagles. Nine of Allen's 10 runs allowed proved to be unearned.

"I was looking forward to this game, since I got the job and knew coach Lawhon was at North Johnston," Smith said. "It's a shame we didn't win, but he's (Lawhon) a winner and competitor, and his players have the same mentality that he has."

Both teams continue Class 1-A Carolina Conference play on Tuesday. The Eagles host Spring Creek, while the Panthers entertain Princeton.

North Johnston 237 03 -- 15 10 0

Rosewood 200 01 -- 3 5 8

Leading hitters -- North Johnston -- Travis Jones 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Louis Edwards 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Travis Pope 3-3, 3B, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Dale Price 3-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Garrett Grady 1-1, 2 RBI, 2 runs. Rosewood -- Trey Kriger 2-3, HR, RBI; Brantley Ellis 2-3; Taylor Allen 1-2, RBI.


North Johnston (6-4, 2-0)

Parrott (W) 3 3 2 2 2 3

Jones 2 2 1 1 1 3

Rosewood (6-4, 1-1)

Martel (L) 1 2/3 2 5 2 4 3

Allen 3 1/3 9 10 1 0 3