Garner right fielder Jack Elliott’s best hit of the night was a two-run double in the fourth inning that tied Clayton 5-5 before he came home with the go-ahead run on designated hitter Cody Jones’ single.
But he’s not so proud of how he reached based to score the game-winning run in the sixth to lift Garner to a 10-7 win over Clayton in a Greater Neuse River Conference baseball game Friday night at Pleasant Field.
With two outs and Trevor Blalock on first base following an infield single, Elliott lifted a fly ball to center field. It disappointed him so much he slammed the bat to the dirt before he saw the ball was dropped and he had to hurry to first base.
“I guess I put some funky spin on it,” said Elliott with a sheepish grin. “I did not think I’d end up on base, but it let us keep playing.”
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After Jones walked, catcher Grayson Lee singled to right field to score both Blalock and Elliott for an 8-7 lead. A wild pitch brought home Jones with an insurance run and the Trojans added one more run in the seventh.
Unranked Garner (10-6, 8-2 GNRC) entered the night having lost to the News & Observer’s No. 9-ranked team, West Johnston, Tuesday to fall one game behind the Wildcats in the conference standings, although the teams split their two conference meetings.
Clayton (9-6, 5-4), ranked No. 12, took a 3-1 lead in the first inning, 4-3 in the second on Cole Hinnant’s solo home run in the second and 5-3 in the fifth before the Comets ultimately suffered their second loss of the season to the Trojans.
“We were still thinking about first or second place, so that’s disappointing,” Clayton coach Stacey House said. “We hit the ball well, but we didn’t execute some pitches on the mound and definitely didn’t make some plays in the field.”
The Comets threatened to expand on their 5-3 lead in the third, but Garner third baseman Nick Galloghly made two nice plays on ground balls. Clayton had the bases loaded with no outs when Galloghly fielded a sharply hit ball and threw home to Lee for a force out. The next batter hit another shot to third, but this time Galloghy and Lee had time to turn a 5-2-3 double play.
Garner’s Wyatt Godwin recorded a save with shutout sixth and seventh innings. Normally a starter, he pitched for the first time in two weeks after head coach Derik Goffena shut him down as a precautionary measure for arm fatigue.
Clayton had runners on first and second with no outs when he entered in the sixth. He got one out on a sacrifice fly and ended the inning with a pop up to second and a grounder to second. He walked two batters with one out in the seventh before he got out of his own jam.
“I felt good today,” Godwin said. “I was glad to help my team any way I could.”