RALEIGH — On a cold night when bats on both sides were equally cold, it took nine innings for Sanderson and Apex to light up the scoreboard Wednesday in an early season nonconference matchup.
It was Vance Lassiter’s walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to bring home Cory Wood that gave host Sanderson the 1-0 win.
“This time of the year when it’s cold and early, it’s not unusual to see the pitchers kind of run the day and that’s kind of how it went,” Sanderson coach Todd Laughlin said. “Both teams pitched the ball well and both teams played pretty good defense. Neither team was overly impressive offensively, but we’re coming off of two days where we hadn’t practiced or done anything due to the ice, so we’re still a little unpolished and still have a lot of work to do to find our groove.”
The teams combined for six hits as Sanderson, expected to be one of the top teams in the state this year, moved to 2-1 on the season. Apex now sits at 1-1.
Starting pitcher Ray Roby recorded seven strikeouts in six innings for the Spartans before Daniel Dulaney came in to close.
Apex starter Alex Yarem struck out five in as many innings before being relieved by Chase Denison.
“I’m pretty proud of our pitching performance tonight,” Apex coach Mike Valder said. “Our defense did a pretty good job. It’s early in the year, so we’re trying to figure out some things, but hat was a heck of a battle for sure. I know those guys are going to be pretty good and they rolled out their best. We rolled out our best. We just didn’t execute some things.
“We just need to be on the field more and with the weather we just haven’t had a chance to work on everything. I’m not disappointed. I would have liked to have found a way to push through and we just didn’t, but we had a couple chances there for sure.”
The Cougars reached base in both extra innings, leaving runners on second and third in the eighth inning.
Sanderson had a chance of its own in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh. Ryan Jeffers led off the inning by reaching base on a walk.
When a Denison pitch got past Apex catcher Lane Olive on the next at bat, Jeffers’ pinch runner Matt Robertson rounded second and headed toward third, where Olive made the throw for an out.
“I feel like some of the mistakes we’ve made offensive and defensively will start to work themselves out as we get more innings under our belt and see more pitches at the plate,” Laughlin said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do in practice. The next challenge for our ball club is making good use of that practice time and to keep playing better baseball.”
“At this point of the year we worry less about wins and losses and more about how we’re playing and tapping into what we’re capable of doing.”