Garner simply could not keep Middle Creek down on Wednesday night in a battle of baseball conference leaders.
Middle Creek, tied for the lead in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference and ranked No. 2 by The N&O among area teams, twice rallied from two-run deficits to defeat Garner 7-6.
Garner, 6-3 and atop the Greater Neuse River Conference with a 5-0 record, had won six straight games.
Middle Creek (10-2, 4-2) scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to erase a 6-4 Garner lead. The Trojans had scored four runs in the fifth to take the two-run advantage.
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“It was a good nonconference test for us,” Middle Creek coach Wesley King said. “We kind of showed some grit and battled back from that one inning (the four-run Garner fifth). It kind of snowballed on us there.
“But I liked the guys’ fight tonight.”
Garner coach Derik Goffena, whose Trojans are ranked No. 15 by The N&O, also felt good about the way his team played.
“It was a good game,” Goffena said. “We saw a lot of positive things. I am really proud of (pitcher) J.D. Kennovin. He came in and gave us three good innings.
“And I thought we had some pretty good at-bats. At the end of the day, they hit the ball hard the last two innings. And their guys that are supposed to hit the ball hit it hard the last two innings.”
For Garner, a big positive was the fifth inning. The Trojans scored all four runs after two were out, getting an RBI double from Colin Pippin and RBI singles from Kameron Harris and Nick Gallogly. The final run scored when the Mustangs made a pair of throwing errors on Gallogly’s single.
Garner took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Cody Jones had an RBI double and Logan Torruella singled and scored on a throwing error by the Middle Creek catcher.
The Mustangs answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of three walks, one of those intentional, by Garner starter Alan Robinson. Kennovin relieved Robinson with one out in the inning and limited the damage by stranding three base runners.
The big bat for Middle Creek was sophomore third baseman Tucker Rogers, who had went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs. Leadoff batter Zeke Barefoot went 2 for 4 with a double and scored two runs.
“Tucker had a nice game,” King said. “He’s been swinging the bat. For a sophomore, he’s got a lot of good baseball ahead of him.”
Garner was led at the plate by Harris, who went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Both teams hit the ball well, with Middle Creek outhitting the Trojans 11-10.
“We are pleased,” Goffena said. “We are playing good right now. Middle Creek is one of the top two or three teams in the area. We felt like we had a chance to win tonight. Anytime we come over here and have a chance to win, we are pretty happy with that.”