It might have been a dark and stormy night, but that really didn’t turn out to be a bad omen for either team.
Garner visited Sanderson for a Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League baseball doubleheader on Tuesday night at Optimist Park. And although the streaking Spartans took their first loss of the season in the opener, they got revenge in the nightcap with the team batting first winning each game.
In the five-inning opener southpaw Skylar Strickland made his season pitching debut for the Trojans, going all the way in a 5-1 victory.
But the Spartans’ summer phenom Ray Roby got the job done in the second, pitching a four-hit, seven-inning complete game that endured a 45-minute lightning delay in the fifth inning as Sanderson won, 4-2.
The results left the Spartans with a 9-1 record and Garner at 6-4.
“(Strickland) came out in the first game and attacked the strike zone and we took a little while to adjust,” said Sanderson coach Todd Laughlin. “In the second game we came out and were a little more aggressive. Ray pitched excellent and attacked the strike zone, and we squared some balls up.
“We graduated seven seniors last year who were impact guys, and these guys are stepping up and filling the spots.”
Garner coach Kurt Pake, whose team used only eight hitters because Strickland is recovering from an injury to his right wrist, was happy to get out with the split.
“The first game was nice,” Pake said. “We got a pitcher back who hadn’t thrown for us all year and got a win against a first-place team. In the second game we battled well until the rain delay, but after that we didn’t compete very well.
“You can’t make mistakes against a good team like Sanderson and expect to win.”
Strickland got the help he needed in the opener, as Tyler Stephens doubled and added a pair of singles and an RBI, while Chance Corbin had three hits with an RBI and Trever Lee doubled and singled with an RBI.
“I broke my wrist about 4½ weeks ago and got my cast off Friday,” said Strickland, a rising senior Pake said will be a key to the Trojans’ hopes in the spring. “I didn’t think I was going to start. But I liked my outing since I didn’t walk anybody until the last inning.”
In the nightcap, Cas Silber led the Spartans with a trio of singles, an RBI and a stolen base while Daniel Dulaney chipped in a two-run triple in a six-hit attack.
“I was trying to keep my weight back and doing when I could to drive it the other way,” said the rising senior Silber, who said he has at least four Division I schools on his recruiting list. “I got lucky with a couple of ground balls.
“The first game was disappointing, but we came back and got the second one and that was the important thing.”
Garner took a 1-0 lead in the first when starting pitcher Jacob Faucette hit a two-out single to right and later scored on a wild pitch, but the Spartans got the next four runs.
The Spartans evened the score in the third as Connor Baldy walked and scored on Silber’s two-out single to left.
In the Sanderson fourth Daniel Ferrell and Sean McLawhon drew consecutive one-out walks and Baldy a two-out walk before the go-ahead run came home on a wild pitch and Dulaney followed it with his triple to the right-field corner.
Garner rallied for one run in the seventh as Nick Gallogly drew a leadoff walk and later scored on Lee’s one-out sacrifice fly.
“I was really happy with my outing,” said Roby, a rising sophomore southpaw who has yet to pitch in a regular-season varsity game. “I was just trying to attack them early and get ahead in the count and pound them after that.
“This is doing a lot to help me get ready for the spring. We’ve faced some pretty good teams so far.”