Pitcher Sam May steps in to lead Clayton over Harnett Central

CorrespondentApril 2, 2014 

— Sam May wasn’t the big-name pitcher Tuesday night in Clayton’s battle for first place in the Greater Neuse River 4A.

But the senior left-hander, who will play for Wake Tech next season, was better at getting the job done.

May went 5 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on six hits while striking out six against four walks, and he got more run support than he needed as the Comets ripped Harnett Central 13-5 at Pleasant Field.

The win improved the Comets to 8-1, 5-0 in Greater Neuse River 4A play. The Trojans fell to 6-2 and 4-1.

Clayton sent 10 batters to the plate in a four-run first inning in which N.C. State signee Tyson Messer lasted just five batters without recording an out and fellow Wolfpack signee Cole Hart took the rest of the early damage.

The Comets outhit the Trojans 8-7 but used nine walks, three Harnett Central errors and numerous Trojans pitching miscues to run up the score.

“I think Sam did a good job of throwing strikes, at least until he got two outs when he walked a couple of batters,” said Clayton coach Stacey Houser, whose team beat Harnett Central by a combined 34-11 in three games last season. “We definitely took advantage of what they gave us.

“We were disciplined at the plate and I told the guys I was most proud of that. They took advantage of good pitches to hit. The first two pitchers from Harnett Central are strikeout pitchers, and our approach was we were going to make them throw strikes. They make their opponents chase a lot of bad pitches and our guys stayed away from that.”

Harnett Central coach Lance Honeycutt said his team is much better than it played Tuesday but gave credit to Houser for having his team better prepared.

“It was uncharacteristic of us, especially” Messer and Hart, Honeycutt said. “Just give it to Clayton. That’s a good ball team. They come out here and they mentally prepare themselves to play every game.

“Our preparation could have been better when the game started, and down the road we’re not going to make that mistake again.”

May (3-1) said he agreed he and his teammates just took a good mental approach to the early-season showdown.

“It was good,” May said. “I had command of my pitches. Sometimes it was tough to find the strike zone, but with the kind of defense we play, I know if I throw strikes they’ll back me up.

“I like to throw low, outside corner pitches and I wasn’t getting them. But my defense did a great job all night.”

Clayton got an RBI triple, a single and two steals from Brett Clark. The Comets also got two hits, an RBI and a stolen base from catcher Marshall Creech, and Blake Joyner added a two-run single and a stolen base.

“I felt pretty good at the plate,” Creech said. “Cole was throwing – he’s a great pitcher. Sam threw very well for us, and his ball was tailing well.

“We played better defense, Sam pitched a great game and (Brandon Boykin) was really good in relief for us.”

The rematch will be April 11 in Angier.

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