04/08/11 — North Duplin deals Spring Creek first league loss of season

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North Duplin deals Spring Creek first league loss of season

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 8, 2011 1:47 PM

CALYPSO -- Oh no, not again.

Less than one week after dropping a Carolina 1-A Conference game in the seventh inning, North Duplin head baseball coach Brad Lloyd got that queasy, sinking feeling of "deja vu" Thursday evening.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Wolfe recorded a game-ending strikeout with the tying run at second base, and the Rebels upended border rival Spring Creek, 9-7.

"Yeah, I was thinking 'oh no, here we go again'," said Lloyd. "We've got to learn how to finish a game. It's funny because when it's close, we finish ... (are) more relaxed than when we have a bigger lead. That just baffles me."

North Duplin (11-2 overall, 4-1 CC) handed Spring Creek (8-7, 4-1) its first defeat in conference play this season. The Rebels plated eight unearned runs on seven hits against Gators' right-handers Cory Howell and Ricky Brayboy.

Overall, the teams combined for 14 unearned runs in the 2-hour, 15-minute contest.

"Cory threw the ball well, especially the last three innings, but we took him out because his pitch count was getting high," said Gators head coach Heath Whitfield. "We just didn't make the routine plays behind him. It started off with the first one of the game, we booted it and they scored.

"Too many unearned runs. That club's got some talent right there. You can't do that against a team like that, can't give them outs."

The first-inning miscue and back-to-back, two-RBI doubles from Konner Brock and Breyon Johnson staked the Rebels to a 5-0 lead after one inning. The Gators answered with three unearned, third-inning runs and stayed within striking distance, 7-4, through five innings of play.

North Duplin tacked on two sixth-inning runs before Spring Creek attempted its hair-raising, seventh-inning comeback. Duane Gurganus stroked a lead-off single to left center field and moved into scoring position when Brayboy drew a walk.

Two errors, a passed ball and a wild pitch allowed the Gators to climb within 9-7. Wolfe issued a two-out double to Eric Mosley, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, but logged the game-clinching strikeout to further tighten the conference title chase.

"A great win for us," said Lloyd. "We've played some good ball, some good teams and this is a really good conference. These guys are finally realizing they're going to have to play their best ball every night."