If you expected anything different in the third Two Rivers 3A Conference baseball meeting between Corinth Holders and South Johnson on the Pirates’ diamond than what transpired in the first two, you left the ballpark disappointed Thursday night.
Count Corinth Holders among the not disappointed. The Pirates pushed two runs across in the sixth inning to notch their second consecutive 3-2 victory over the Trojans on their home field.
The win is the seventh straight for head coach Adam Weaver’s club and moved Corinth Holders to 3-0 in the Two Rivers 3A Conference entering the break. South Johnston dropped to 1-2 in the league; 6-6 overall.
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The Trojans led 2-1 in the sixth when Mason Cooper drew a leadoff walk, then clean-up batter Tate Proctor laid down a sacrifice bunt. Will Jones followed with a sharp single to right field.
Cooper was going to try to score from second initially, but lost his footing rounding third base. Fortunately for the Pirates, the throw home sailed high, hitting the backstop net and allowing Cooper to come home and tie the game at 2.
Jones, who took second on the throw home, stole third base with two outs and went home when the throw to third sailed into left field, pushing the Pirates ahead 3-2.
“That’s our kind of baseball,” said Corinth Holders assistant coach Ricky Howard. “We feel like we have a good chance of winning, even when we only have four hits. … Getting the lead off batter on, moving him over and finding a way to score.
“Our pitching is one of our strengths and Bass showed that tonight by finishing it out after Tyler gave us a good start.”
They said it
“That’s the kind of games we always seem to play up here,” said South Johnston coach Aaron Parnell. “This is the third straight year we’ve lost on this field and it was all on similar situations. Corinth Holders is one of those good, solid teams that can live off of your mistakes.
“I wish I knew what the answer was up here.”
Three to watch
Will Jones, Corinth Holders: The Lenoir-Rhyne recruit led the charge in the Pirates’ rally in the sixth, first lacing a single to right field that allowed the game-tying run to score. Then, his steal of third forced a high throw that got into the outfield, sending him home for what would be the game-winning run.
“Will Jones had a great at bat when we needed it,” Howard said.
Conner Bass, Corinth Holders: The right-hander got the old-fashioned long form bullpen relief victory — ala Sparky Lyle or Goose Gossage with the 1970s Yankees, holding the Trojans to a single hit over the final four innings and just two base runners. He posted a 7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio on the night.
Bass combined with Tyler Brown to strike out 10 South batters on the night.
“We feel like we have four or five guys who can help us win any game on the mound,” Howard said. “It’s just how those pieces fit together on each night and a matter of us playing solid defense and doing the things we do well at the plate. When we do that, we can compete with anybody.”
Nash Johnson, South Johnston: He reached base in all three plate appearances for the Trojans, going 2-for-2 with the two-run single in the third inning to account for all of the Trojans’ offense.
By the numbers
9: Total runners stranded on base by both teams. Corinth Holders did have the benefit of five walks on the night, but otherwise the scoring chances were very limited for both teams.
2: Deep fly balls run down by Pirate outfielders that saved runs. The first was grabbed by Tate Proctor on a deep shot to right by High Point University recruit Joseph Johnson with the bases loaded. The second by Kahlil Hodge in the sixth with a runner on base.
1: Walks issued by Pirate pitchers Bass and Brown on the night.
0: Errors by Corinth Holders defense on the night.
Both teams are in tournaments over Spring break. South Johnston hosts the annual Johnston County Easter Invitational, opening against 2A power Bunn on Saturday night.
“It’s a pivot point in your season, no matter when it comes,” Parnell said of the JCEI. “It’s always a playoff atmosphere. You find out a lot about your team and get a real test against talented teams.
“It’s really a chance to play three games in a row with a playoff feel to them because of the competition and the crowds.”
Corinth Holders is in the round-robin Gold Leaf Invitational in Wilson, meeting Eastern Wayne, Jamestown Ragsdale and Northern Nash.
Two Rivers 3A Conference Baseball Standings