Count Willie Langley among the skeptics when Corinth Holders’ potent offense posted only a combined four runs over its first two games of the prep baseball season.
“We scrimmaged (the Pirates) and I thought they were one of the best hitting teams I’ve seen in a long time,’’ said Langley, who is in his initial campaign as Nash Central’s diamond coach.
Unfortunately for Langley, host Corinth Holders returned to its expected offensive form as part of Wednesday’s 17-1 non-conference decision over Bulldogs in a game that was called after the top of the fifth inning due to the mandatory 10-run rule.
The Pirates (2-1) pounded out 11 hits, drew seven walks and induced three hit batsmen while scoring in every inning, including a nine-run uprising in the bottom of the third frame.
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“It felt good to be the aggressor this time,’’ said Corinth Holders assistant coach Ricky Howard. “After the first two games, the guys were excited to come out today and try to get going with the bats. They were ready to play. We had been hitting balls right at people in our earlier games, and I think that made us get away from our approach at the plate.’’
Corinth Holders also received a sharp pitching effort from lefty Tyler Brown, a Mars Hill College signee. Brown didn’t allow a hit through three frames but got a bit rusty during the Pirates’ extended plate appearance in the bottom of the third. After allowing a pair of base knocks in the top of the fourth, Brown gave way to Tate Proctor, who finished the game, giving up just a single run in the fifth inning.
“Tyler got ahead in the count and that was a key,’’ Howard said. “It makes a big difference when you aren’t pitching from behind. He got in some good work but ran out of gas when he had to wait for a long time in the third.’’
Nash Central (2-3) picked up its lone marker and averted a shutout in the fifth courtesy of Noah Shrock’s two-out, RBI double.
Nash Central was a single out away from escaping the bottom of the first with just one run allowed, but Corinth Holders countered with run-scoring doubles from Will Jones and Tate Proctor to take charge for good at 3-0.
“We broke out (offensively) really well today,’’ Proctor said. “We just have to keep our energy up, and we really didn’t have that our first two games. As long as we keep our energy and intensity up, we should be fine this year.’’
Three to know
Tate Proctor, Corinth Holders: Proctor, a junior, went 4-for-4 with a home run and double to go with five RBI. Proctor’s longball – a three-run shot – was his second of the season and highlighted the Pirates’ huge third inning, which saw 13 hitters come to the plate. Proctor also retired five of the seven batters he faced in the relief, and the run he allowed was unearned.
Eli Dalton, Corinth Holders: The Pirates’ leadoff hitter smashed a first-pitch single to begin the bottom of the first, and he would eventually score off a sacrifice fly from Kahlil Hodge. Dalton reached base three times with a pair of singles and a hit batsman.
“When you get the first guy on base like that, it sets the tone,’’ Howard said. “We focused on getting on base and scoring any way we can. That first at-bat really got us going.’’
Tyler Brown, Corinth Holders: Regarded as one of the top pitchers in the Pirates’ rotation, Brown has lived up to that billing by appearing in each of his club’s games to date. His top performance came Wednesday as he gave up just two baserunners -- and zero hits -- through the opening three innings. Brown also started a 1-6-3 double play that ended a brief Nash Central rally in the second.
During the decisive first inning, Corinth Holders came through with a pair of first-pitch hits (from Dalton and Proctor) as part of the Pirates’ aggressive approach at the plate. Seemingly determined to undo their lack of plate success last week, the Pirates were hungry offensively literally from the opening pitch.
“We had different guys step up depending on the situation,’’ Howard said. “Up and down our lineup, guys had quality at-bats. That felt really good.’’
The Bulldogs, who compete in the Big East Conference, have picked up a pair of strong victories this season over Eastern Wayne and Smithfield-Selma. But Nash Central is still seeking some consistency — an intangible that wasn’t on display during losses to Corinth Holders, Bunn and North Johnston. Langley’s club would finish with just three hits Wednesday after registering only two base knocks during Monday’s home setback against Bunn.
“Through our first three games of the year, we had a team earned-run average less than 1.00,” Langley said. “We beat a very good Eastern Wayne team. We have pitched well and our defense has been solid, but we have to start swinging the bats. We have just two runs scored over our last two games, so we have to figure that out.”