04/25/07 — Student beats teacher as Rosewood edges N. Johnston

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Student beats teacher as Rosewood edges N. Johnston

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on April 25, 2007 1:49 PM

The student finally beat the teacher.

For Rosewood coach Josh Smith, playing against his mentor has meant defeat and frustration in each of his first three match-ups against North Johnston coach David Lawhon.

Lawhon, who coached Smith at Rosewood, always seemed to have the upper hand against the Smith-coached Eagles.

On Tuesday night, however, Smith finally got that elusive victory against the coach who taught him the game.

With the help of a clutch two-run homer by Cody Richards and his subsequent strikeout to end the game, Rosewood defeated North Johnston 6-5 at the Nest in Rosewood to pick up a huge Carolina 1-A Conference win.

"It just feels likes there is a huge burden lifted from my shoulders, but I hate beating him because he is my mentor," Smith said. "Coach Lawhon taught me everything there is to know about the game and everything I do with these guys is a lot of what he's instilled in me. Still, though, it's a great win for us and our ballclub."

The night nearly turned to disappointment for the home team, who must have had a sense of déjà vu watching what transpired in the seventh inning.

The Eagles were coming off a 12-11, 10-inning win over Ayden-Grifton this past Friday. The game featured Rosewood blowing an 11-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning before winning it in the 10th.

Against the Panthers, Rosewood seemed to be in good shape after Richards crushed a 3-2 Brannan Barbee pitch for a two-run homer to put the Eagles ahead 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth.

"(Cody's) been struggling a little bit at the plate so it was good to see him come around and step up when things needed to be stepped up," said Smith.

Richards then entered in relief in the seventh inning and allowed the lead-off hitter, Jeremy Wilkins, to reach on a single. With one out, Dale Price doubled him home.

A bunt single by Seth Bruton brought the tying run to the plate in Daniel Scott. Richards got Scott to strike out swinging, but then allowed a two-run double by Travis Pope to cut the Rosewood lead to only one at 6-5.

With the horrible feeling of Friday night no doubt in the Eagles' minds, Richards got Garrett Grady to go down swinging to end the game.

"We tend to make things interesting, but hats off to North Johnston," Smith said. "Coach Lawhon does a great job with them. There's no quit in them.

"We pitched when we needed to pitch and got that final out when needed to."

While disappointed in the loss, Lawhon wasn't ashamed to lose to his pupil.

"Josh is an outstanding young man and an outstanding coach," Lawhon said. "If I'm going to lose a 6-5 game, there's no one else I'd rather lose to."

From the game's outset, the Eagles seemed determined to win this one for their coach.

An RBI single by Holt Rains and an RBI double by Taylor Allen put Rosewood ahead 2-0 at the end of the first inning.

The Eagles expanded their lead in the third inning on a RBI double by Rains and in the fifth on a RBI groundout by Robert Franks to lead 4-0.

The four-run lead seemed to be all Eagles starter Allen would need as he held North Johnston scoreless over the first five innings.

In the sixth inning, the Panthers finally got to Allen when they scored two runs to cut the lead in half to 4-2 -- before Richard's longball made it a four-run lead again in the bottom of the inning.

Allen (4-2) finished the evening allowing two runs on four hits, walked four and struck out four while helping himself at the plate by going 2-for-3 with two doubles.

"Taylor stepped up extremely well," said Smith. "He hit his locations and did well swinging the bat."

Lawhon was quick to credit Rosewood's bats as being a big reason for North Johnston's defeat.

"Rosewood has a great hitting ballclub," said Lawhon. "Anytime you can hold them to six runs, then your pitching hasn't done extremely bad."

While the win was important on a personal level for Smith, it also meant a lot in the Carolina Conference standings.

The win ties Rosewood (13-4 overall) with North Johnston for second place at 5-2.

"We've just got to keep on taking it one game at a time," said Smith. "It was just a tremendous team effort tonight and gives us a lot of confidence. It was tough but we came out on top."

N. Johnston 000 002 3 -- 5 8 3

Rosewood 201 012 x -- 6 9 0

Leading Hitters -- North Johnston -- Jeremy Wilkins 2-3, R; Seth Bruton 2-2, 2 R; Dale Price 1-3, 2B, RBI, R; Travis Pope 1-1, 2B, 2 RBIs; Daniel Scott 1-2, RBI, R. Rosewood -- Taylor Allen 2-3, 2 2B, RBI, R; Holt Rains 2-3, 2B, 2 RBIs, R; Robert Franks 1-3, 2B, RBI, R; Cody Richards 1-3, HR, 2 RBIs.

DP -- North Johnston 2, Rosewood 1. LOB -- North Johnston 3, Rosewood 2. SB -- Hare. CS -- Pope, Holloman, Wilkins, Rains.


North Johnston

Wilkins (L) 2 4 2 2 0 2

Pope 1/3 2 1 1 0 0

Barbee 32/3 3 3 2 1 1


Allen (W, 4-2) 6 4 2 2 4 4

Richards 1 4 3 3 0 2