Hawks swoop past Saints at Alphin Field
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 4, 2012 1:48 PM
LaGRANGE -- Turn the page.
Go back to work.
Southern Wayne faces that challenge after failing to create some distance between itself and the rest of its Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference baseball brethren Tuesday evening.
Two early-inning errors and crucial base running mistakes proved costly in a 4-2 loss against North Lenoir at Alphin Field. Instead of building a two-game lead, the Saints (9-5 overall) dropped into third place -- one-half game behind the Hawks, and 11/2 behind county archrival Eastern Wayne.
"We made too many mistakes early and they came back to hurt us, changed the tone of the baseball game," SW head coach Trae McKee said.
The Saints managed one hit with runners in scoring position during the first two innings, but couldn't push a run across against North Lenoir right-hander Caleb Kearney. A base-running mistake on a two-out single ended a second-inning threat.
Kearney plunked Keith Jones to start the Southern Wayne third. Jones stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw on the play. The senior scored on a wild pitch.
Tyler Gainey singled to left field and trotted home three batters later on Taylor Raynor's RBI groundout.
The Saints, who are 3-3 in games by two runs or less this season, managed to put just four runners on base in the final four innings. Kearney yielded four hits and logged six strikeouts in 62/3 innings of work. He retired six straight batters during two-plus innings and earned his third decision in seven appearances this season.
Chastin Radford struck out the lone batter he faced for his second save of the season.
"The first three innings were a little tough," said Kearney, who threw 101 pitches. "After I settled down a little bit, the pitches started getting down, I was getting ahead in counts and throwing more strikes.
"Everything just started working."
North Lenoir (8-4, 6-2) plated two runs in each of the second and third innings.
Jake Olenjiczak and JT Williams, who bat in the Nos. 8 and 9 holes, respectively, combined for half of the Hawks' eight-hit attack. Each doubled and drove in a run against Saints right-hander Tyler Gainey.
"JT played a phenomenal game," Kearney said. "It's the first time all season that the bottom of the lineup has hit the ball better than the top of the lineup. It worked, which is pretty good."
Jeremy Taylor replaced Gainey in the third inning and tossed 31/3 innings of five-strikeout, scoreless relief. He allowed just three base runners.
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