LAURINBURG — A two-out rally in the bottom of the fifth inning propelled the Fighting Scots baseball team to a 7-2 win over Pinecrest on Tuesday.
After back-to-back strikeouts by Pinecrest pitcher Garrett Clark it looked like the Scots would have another three up, three down inning — Scots senior short stop Donta Green had other plans. Green hit a double right threw the legs of Pinecrest’s third baseman Jordan Moss. Green then stole third base after Clark mishandled the throw in.
The hit by Green sparked something in the Scots dugout and senior Justin Ray hit the ball back up the middle for an RBI single to tie the game 2-2. The Patriots then opted to intentionally walk Justin Bowers before bringing in new pitcher Dax Ingram.
Ingram, a left-handed side arm thrower, hit Austin Norton with his first pitch to load the bases for the Scots. Scots second baseman Tyler Faulk found a gap and drove the ball past second base to score two more runs to give the Scots a 4-2 lead. Scots designated hitter Matthew Hyatt found his way onto base after taking a pitch to the back, to load the bases for a second time.
Scots catcher Zac Phillips kept the hitting spree going with a two-run single to shallow right-center field to make it a 6-2 Scots lead. Back-to-back walks to Davon Ratliffe and McKenzie White walked in a run for the Scots and forced the Patriots to make another pitching change. Replacing Ingram was Zach Pruitte, who ended the inning for the Patriots with a high pop-fly to center by Green.
The Scots held the Patriots scoreless in the final two innings to pick up their first Southeastern conference win of the season, after dropping back-to-back games to Purnell Swett last week.
Before the two-out rally in the fifth, the Scots trailed Pinecrest 2-1 through four innings. The low-scoring game saw the Scots strike first in the bottom of the second inning after a walk to Faulk, a double by Hyatt and a walk to Phillips loaded the bases. A pop fly to right by Ratliffe gave the Scots two outs, so Scots head coach Chad Hill took a gamble and called White to lay down a bunt to try and score Faulk from third on a suicide squeeze.
White laid down a perfect bunt that tripped up Pinecrest’s pitcher, catcher and third baseman to leave home plate uncovered to score Faulk to take a 1-0 lead. Pinecrest responded with a run of their own in the third inning on a long fly ball to right. Pinecrest took the lead in the fifth inning as the Scots brought Green to the mound to replace starting pitcher Daly Marcano. Marcano threw four innings allowing one run off four hits with zero walks and three strikeouts.
Green started the inning with a walk to Nik Pry before striking out Tommy Vinson for the first out of the inning. Two more walks by Green loaded the bases for Pinecrest and forced coach Hill to call a timeout. Green settled in and struck out Pinecrest’s Zach Pruitt. A pass ball that got past Phillips which allowed Pry to score from third to give the Patriots a 2-1 lead. Hill then pulled Green and replaced him with fellow senior Justin Bowers.
Pinecrest’s Davis Byrd hit a dinger back to Bowers to end the inning. Bowers finished out the game throwing just over two innings allowing zero runs off one hit with zero runs and one strikeout.
With the win, the Scots move to 9-2 overall and 1-2 in SEC play while Pinecrest moves to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in SEC play. Richmond leads the SEC at 3-0 after topping Purnell on Tuesday. Pinecrest and Purnell are tied for second at 2-1 and Scotland and Hoke are tied for third at 1-2. Lumberton is sitting in last place in the conference standings at 0-3.
The Scots and Pinecrest will face off on Friday in Southern Pines at 7 p.m. The Scots will be on the road Saturday, April 1 as well to take on Laney at 4 p.m.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.