Tarboro Vikings junior starting pitcher Keith Williams had command of the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars Friday night at Municipal Stadium in Tarboro. WIlliams was the winning pitcher in the Vikings 8-2 win over the Cougars in Eastern Plains Conference action.
Tarboro improves to 7-4 overall and 4-1 in conference while the Cougars fall to 0-9 overall and 0-5 in conference.
Williams battled from the outset of the game. He struck out at least two batters every inning except in the fifth inning and finished the game with 14 strikeouts. He gave up two runs on six hits, while he walked three which all came in the fourth inning.
"Keith wanted the ball all week and it just happened to be his turn in the rotation and he stepped up and threw a great game for us," Tarboro head coach Justin Smith said. "He threw the ball better than he has all season. We need for him to continue to give us performances like that each time he steps on the mound. I am proud of the way he gave us six strong innings. He didn't want to come out but he had reached his pitch limit."
Tarboro scored a run in the first inning when Chase Johnson drove in Layne Brewer with a base hit up the middle. Brewer had reached base after singling to left field.
The Cougars responded right back in the top of the second inning, when Philip Webb led off with a single down the first baseline and Tarboro's right fielder bobbled the ball which allowed Webb to take second base. Brooks Parisher then singled to move Webb over to third. Williams then threw a wild pitch which allowed Webb to score and Parisher to advance to second. Williams got out the jam after he struck out Damien Bryant and Chris Owens. He got Jared Pridgen to ground out to him as well.
"I was proud of the fact that we battled like did but the 14 strikeouts is unacceptable," Tolson said. "We work so hard on hitting the ball and to get away from that and strike out that many times is something that bothers me. I have to look at what we are doing and rectify what we are doing at practice."
Tarboro came in fired up after SouthWest had tied the game up at 1-1.
Cougars starting pitcher Philip Webb struggled to start the second inning. He walked Austin Holland and Williams. Then he hit Travis Martin to load the bases. SouthWest head coach Tommy Tolson had seen enough and relieved Webb with Justin Letchworth.
"I was torn in whether to go with Justin or Stephen but I felt like Justin could get us out of that inning and then I was going to go with someone else and it didn't work out," Tolson said. "Stephen did a great job for us in relief when I brought him in."
With the bases loaded, Brewer hit a single that drove in Holland and Williams to give Tarboro a 3-1 lead. The Vikings weren't done. Will Dupree then reached after Letchworth mishandled the bunt, which loaded the base again for Tarboro. Tyler Wooten then hit a single to drive in Martin. Johnson then capped off the inning with a single to drive in two more runs which gave Tarboro a 7-1 lead. Letchworth gave up two more hits and then Tolson relieved him with Stephen Thompson.
"I told the guys after that big second inning Tarboro had that it was time to bare down and keep playing like I knew we are capable of playing," Tolson said. "I have seen life in my guys over the past week or so. We are getting to where I want us to be but we have to start putting things together and get the hits we need them at the right times."
Williams who was sitting on cruise control gave up one more run in the fourth inning. He struck Webb out, then Parisher singled. Williams then walked three straight Cougars which allowed Parisher to score and cut the Vikings lead to 7-2.
Thompson seemed to have command of Tarboro. He didn't allow another run until Tarboro scratched another run across in the sixth inning when Johnson singled home another run, which was his fourth Rbi of the game and his third hit.
Coach Smith was not sure if Johnson was going to play, because he hurt his ankle Thursday and wore a walking boot all day Friday. He was game time decision.
"Chase had a great outing for us," Smith said. "We weren't sure if he was going to be able to play. He did everything he could to get on the field and when he did he performed fantastically. He was a big key for us in the win."
Tarboro out hit SouthWest 13 to 6. The Cougars stranded seven runners on base and four of them were in scoring position, which has been a problem for them this season and Tolson is still trying to figure out why his team can't get the runs in during the game like they do in practice when working on situations.
Tarboro has a big week ahead of them in the conference. With one loss in the conference the Vikings could shake up things if they can beat Farmville Central and North Pitt this week which will put them in first place.
"We have our biggest week in our schedule coming up with Farmville Central and North Pitt in the same week," Smith said. "We have to be absolutely focused and ready to play. We need to battle in every inning of every game. This coming week will decide what happens in our conference this coming week and I hope our guys are ready to play."
SouthWest will be back in action Tuesday at 7 p.m. when they travel to Kinston to play the Kinston Vikings at Grainger Stadium.
Tarboro will be back in action today when they play Southern Nash. The varsity game will start after the JV game is completed. The JV game starts at 4:30 p.m. at Municipal Stadium.
Leading hitters - Tarboro - C. Johnson 3-4 4 Rbi, L. Brewer 3-5 2 Rbi, A. Holland 1-2, T. Martin 1-3, W. Dupree 1-3, T. Wooten 1-4 Rbi, K. Williams 1-2 SWE - B. Parisher 2-3, C. Owens 1-2 Rbi, P. Webb 1-3, S. Thompson 1-4
Pitching - WP K. Williams 6 IP 2 R 6 H 14 K 3 BB LP P. Webb 1 1/3 IP 4 R 2 H 3 BB