Corinth Holders’ baseball team remained unbeaten in the Two Rivers 3A Conference, improving to 5-0 in the league by outdueling South Johnston 5-2 Tuesday night.
The Pirates (9-4 overall) followed coach Adam Weaver’s simple, but effective, approach in their fourth straight victory.
“We’ve been preaching to these guys all year to compete on every pitch,” Weaver said. “We’ve got a young team and it took us a little while to get going but right now they are competing on every pitch. They are having better results by doing that.
“Tonight with (South Johnston’s) Joe Johnson on the mound we knew we were going to have our hands full. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. … We were just fortunate to get it done tonight.”
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Johnson retired the first 13 Pirates he faced and had a 1-0 lead on freshman Grant Millay’s second-inning home run to right field.
The Pirates got going in the fourth inning, putting the bat on the ball to produce a pair of runs. A succession of choppers on the infield grass led to three errors and an infield hit to give Corinth Holders a 2-1 lead.
South Johnston (9-6, 2-3) tied it in the bottom of the fourth when Millay doubled with one out, moved to third on a single by Jack Raynor and then came home on an infield single by Nash Johnson.
Weaver gathered his players in the dugout, exhorting them to respond to the Trojans’ tying run. The Pirates must have been listening.
Corinth Holders got three hits in the top of the fifth: a leadoff single by Will Jones, a one-out single by Kahlil Hodge and a two-run double with two outs by Tate Proctor that pushed the lead to 4-2.
“When a team, particularly South Johnston because they have that tradition, when they come up at home to tie a ball game, we didn’t want the momentum to stay in their dugout,” Weaver said. “We had to get it right back. We had to make them fight for everything they got.”
South Johnston’s Aaron Parnell was making his debut as Trojans’ head coach taking over for Keith Durham, who stepped down last week for personal reasons. Parnell played for Durham and is in his fourth season helping coach South’s tradition-rich program, which he said helped make the transition as smooth as possible.
“I had been the head JV coach,” Parnell said. “It’s a little different atmosphere being the varsity (head coach), but not too much.”
The game was a battle between two teams playing good baseball, Parnell said.
“We knew they were a good team and they have been hot,” Parnell said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a battle. … When you have infield hits that decide a ball game that means it is a pretty good ball game. Their pitchers did a good and Joe (Johnson) gave everything we asked for out of him.”
Johnson pitched into the sixth inning, giving up just two earned runs and striking out four.
Left-handers Jake Lewis and Grant Austin combined to hold the Trojans to two runs on five hits.
In the end, it came down to a handful of plays made, or not made, by each team.
“We were fortunate tonight in some big situations to get outs when we needed them,” Weaver said. “Against a pitcher like Joe Johnson, you have to limit your strikeouts and put the ball in play on the ground and make them make plays. Tonight, the ball bounced our way a couple of times and we were fortunate enough to get out of here with a win.”
Corinth Holders grabbed its sixth league win on Wednesday, edging Western Harnett, 5-4.
South Johnston got back to winning on Wednesday night as well, beating Triton 2-0 behind Cody Allen’s complete-game one-hitter.