BETHEL – Last night the Tarboro Vikings took a huge step in advancing in the Eastern Plains 2A conference standings with a convincing 8-5 win over the North Pitt Panthers. Keith Williams was superb in closing down the Panthers, who came into the game ranked in top ten of the state 2A rankings. The only two losses for North Pitt this season have been to the Vikings.
North Pitt struck first in the bottom of the second inning, scoring two runs, highlighted by a two-run double by Josh Gadrimas. Tarboro used a double by Will Dupree and hits by Layne Brewer and Chase Johnson to tie the score up 2-2 in the top of the third.
Tarboro took the lead in the top fourth as Brewer drove in Dupree, who had walked, with his second hit of the evening. In the top of the fifth, the Vikings added another run as Johnson led off with a double, Timmy Walker walked and Austin Holland got a hit. Johnson eventually scored on a ground out by Joe Miller, giving the Vikings a 4-2 lead.
The Panthers got back a run in the bottom of the fifth as Collin Brinkley led off with a single, made his way to third via a steal and a ground out, and eventually scored on a Tyler Ables sacrifice fly, cutting the Tarboro lead to 4-3.
Both teams went down quietly in the sixth inning, but the seventh inning produced many runs and excitement. Johnson led off the inning with a base on balls, followed by a Drury Armstrong single, sending Johnson to third. Armstrong then stole second base, and Timmy Walker followed with a two-run single, increasing the Tarboro lead to 6-3. Holland reached on error, and after two strike outs, Dupree got his second double of the night, plating both Walker and Holland and leaving the Vikings up 8-5 going in to the bottom of the seventh.
North Pitt did not go down without a fight in the bottom of the inning. After an error and a base on balls, Williams got a ground out, which advanced both runners. Ables then was hit by a Williams pitch, taking first and loading the bases. The Panthers then scored one run on a wild pitch, which was followed by Bryant Battle fly out. Chad Briley then got a base hit, scoring another run for North Pitt. Christopher Perry then got a base on balls to load the sacks.
At this point Vikings head coach Justin Smith relieved Williams with Dupree. With Damien Dudley at the plate, representing the winning run, Dupree promptly set Dudley down on strikes in just three pitches to secure the 8-5 victory.
Williams was the winning pitcher for Tarboro, one out short of a complete game. He gave up six hits, struck out five and walked only two. The Tarboro defense committed two errors in the game, while they collected twelve hits for the evening. Brewer and Johnson both had three hits, while Armstrong and Dupree had two each. Holland and Walker each had one hit in the game. Johnson, Walker and Dupree all had two runs batted in for the evening.
Head coach Smith was highly pleased with the victory. "Williams was outstanding, had control of his pitches all evening," stated Smith. "I knew that Dupree could come in and close out the deal, as I have complete confidence in my pitching staff." Smith was also pleased to see his team find their hitting stroke after being pretty much shut down by Farmville Central. "We worked on our hitting big time yesterday in practice," stated Smith. "The results were evident".
Tarboro played the game without the services of catcher and co-captain Tyler Wooten, who was hit in the head by a pitch in Tuesday night's game. He is doing well and hopefully will be ready by the time Tarboro takes the field next Wednesday in the Easter Classic.
With this win Tarboro is now 5-2 in the EPC, sitting solidly in second place, with an overall record of 9-5. Tarboro's next action, as stated above, will be Wednesday at 7pm in the Tarboro Easter Classic against St. Maria Goretti from Hagerstown, Maryland.