Unlike its previous come-from-behind victory the day before, NBS was not able to shake the deficit in losing 10-2 to Hitting Zone, a team out of North Carolina.
“They had a couple of those hits that fell where they needed to. We had a couple of guys that had some mental lapses that just allowed them to score a run here and there,” NBS coach Jarrod Brown said. “Just some little bloop hits and a couple errors on our part kind of gave ’em some extra runs.”
Hitting Zone tacked on five runs in the bottom of the third to break a 1-all tie. It loaded the bases to start the inning as Chad Fisher reached on a single, D.J. Reader drew a walk and Richie Sanfilippo was grazed by a pitch. Brooks Benton gave Hitting Zone the lead, 2-1, with his bases-loaded walk and another base on balls, to Dallas Smithers, with the bags full chased NBS starter Dillon Swaggerty from the game.
Reliever Kinley Craig was greeted with a two-run double to left from Hitting Zone’s Boston New, and Brad Smith followed up by putting a fielder’s choice into play to plate his team’s final run of the inning, which made it 6-1.
NBS, sensing the need for a rally, had its first two batters reach base in the fifth as Austin Walker got on via error and Cass’ Brandon Etheridge drove a double — his second of the game — to right to put runners in scoring position. Pinch hitter Brett Whitfield’s sacrifice hit scored Walker, but NBS could not add any more runs despite a well-hit ball from Woodland’s Luke Patterson, which appeared to have the might for a home run before falling harmlessly into the right fielder’s glove.
Hitting Zone padded its four-run lead in its half of the inning with Reader drilling a run-scoring double to the center-field wall to bring home Fisher, who reached on an error. The 6-3, 306-pound Reader hustled home a batter later on Richie Sanfilippo’s RBI hit.
A couple more runs came in when Austin Elmore drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 9-2 before Austin Purviance fought off a pitch to first base, which pulled Cass’ Chaz Wilson off the bag. Wilson looked at his unoccupied bag and had to eat the ball with no one to throw to.
Hitting Zone’s final run ended the game on the mercy rule, just minutes before the two-hour time limit would have delivered the same outcome.
Chase Chilson earned the win in four innings, giving up no earned runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out two.
Swaggerty picked up the loss for NBS, giving up four earned runs on five hits, six walks and one hit batter. He added three strikeouts.
NBS surged ahead in the second inning following a dropped fly ball by Hitting Zone on Andrew Fisher’s pop-up. The miscue brought in Cass’ Dylan Williams, who singled near the top of the inning.
Williams also made a spectacular play in right field with an inning-ending double play in the first, throwing out an overzealous runner who had strayed too far off second base.
His high school teammate, Wilson, helped out with an inning-ending double play of his own when he took a throw from the second baseman and fired it across the diamond to nail Purviance at third after he tried to advance two bases on the groundout.
Hitting Zone did manage to score a run on Smithers’ RBI double to tie the game, scoring Benton who got on base when the ball got to the backstop following his strikeout.
NBS plays Farrah Builders at 11:30 a.m. today at Cass High, as Perfect Game’s 16U National Championship series being held throughout north Georgia continues, and faces Marucci Elite 16s Louisiana at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Brown is hoping for a strong start from his team.
“Hopefully, guys will come out ready to play with a little more intensity, a little more focus,” he said of his team, which came back to win 6-5 Sunday over the Sacramento Bandits. “If we win these next two games then we have a chance still to make the playoffs.”
Hitters for NBS were Etheridge, 2 for 3 (two doubles); M. Hammonds, 1 for 2; Wilson, 1 for 2; and Williams, 1 for 1 (walk). Whitfield added an RBI for NBS.
Getting hits for Hitting Zone were Chad Fisher, 1 for 3; Reader, 1 for 2 (RBI, double, walk); Sanfilippo, 1 for 2 (RBI, hit by pitch); Smithers, 1 for 2 (two RBIs, double, walk); New, 1 for 1 (two RBIs, double, walk); Woods, 1 for 1; Smith, 1 for 3 (RBI); and Purviance, 1 for 2, (RBI, walk). Benton and Elmore each drove in one run.