Jordan High School’s young baseball team can be confident about one thing following a tough streak of three straight extra-inning losses: the Falcons can hang with just about any team in the state.
After a 13-inning, two-day, 11-10 loss at East Chapel Hill on Wednesday, Jordan had played 30 innings in six days against three teams with a combined record of 14-6.
“We play as tough a schedule as any team in the state,” Jordan head coach Aaron Brown said as his team filed off Wildcat Field an headed back to Durham. And it would be hard to argue with him.
The non-conference portion of Jordan’s schedule is against teams with a combined winning percentage of .582. And that’s including a 1-6 Raleigh Enloe team and Carrboro’s disappointing 1-6 start as the defending Mid-State Conference champs.
Throw in PAC-6 opponents like East Chapel Hill (6-1), Cardinal Gibbons (6-1) and Northern Durham (4-3), and the first half of Jordan’s schedule is a virtual murderer’s row.
“That experience is what is making us better,” Brown said.
Again, it would be hard to argue with the second-year head coach.
With a roster that features more freshmen (2) and sophomores (4) total than seniors (5) Jordan started off its first up-and-down week of play with a 17-6 loss to Cary Panther Creek, a 10-2 win at Raleigh Enloe and a 13-9 loss at Heritage. Panther Creek was 5-2 and Heritage was 5-1 as off last week.
Heading into a rematch at home Thursday with (1-6) Enloe, Jordan had in quick succession lost 6-5 in nine innings at Cary Green Hope, won 7-3 at Roxboro Person in eight innnings, and lost by one run in 13 innings at East Chapel Hill.
That may not seem like much, but it’s clearly progress for a young team.
Wednesday’s loss actually took about five hours over a span of two days to complete. The teams battled for 12 innings Tuesday at Wildcat Field, which has no lights, before play was suspended because of darkness.
Jordan led by two runs three times in extra innings at East – at 6-4 in top of the eight, 8-6 in the 12th and 10-8 in the 13th, thanks to some timely hitting and running by freshman Ben Miller (double, 2 RBIs), junior Will Hoyle (3-7, double, 1 RBI), sophomore Chris Shepherd (2-6), sophomore Nick Fajardo (2-6, 2 runs) and sophomore Tyler Wilson (2-6, 4 runs).
Four errors by East Chapel Hill also helped. But the Falcons committed five errors of their own, and in the 13th inning they ran out of luck.
When play resumed Wednesday, Shepherd led off and scored on a passed ball, and Wilson reach first on a fielder’s choice that put-out Gabe Keaveney at the plate. Wilson then stole second and later scored when an errant throw by East sailed over third.
East’s leadoff man in the 13th, Jeb Beyerley scored on a fielder’s choice for Austin Shank and Shank tied the game at 10-10 by scoring on a wild pitch.
After two outs, East frosh Bryce Jeske drove a hard shot up the middle that Jordan failed to handle, allowing Rice to score the game-winning run.
Jackson Hicks, who pitched for the final three outs Wednesday, picked up the win on the mound to improve to 3-0 this season.
RBIs were highly prized in the error-filled game, but East’s Will Schmidt (2-5), Jeb Beyerley (2-7, double), Hicks (1-6) each batted in two runs, as did Sean Moore with a two-run homer that kept East Chapel Hill alive in the bottom of the eighth inning. Brad Rice (2-4, double) and Austin Shank (double) each drove in one run.
“This was two pretty evenly matched teams who played some ugly baseball,” East coach Phil Woodell said. “We didn’t play well enough to win it, but we fought hard enough to win – so we’ll take it. ... It’s got to be a tough one for Jordan to lose. That’s a good ball club.”