South Johnston’s baseball team rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take rival Cleveland to extra innings in the Johnston County Easter Invitational Monday, but the Rams scored a pair in the eighth to take an 8-6 win over the host Trojans.
“We started off slow,” said South coach Aaron Parnell. “It took a while to get some offense. There at the end we got some timely hitting. We still left too many runners on (South stranded 11 runners). That’s something we’ve been doing a lot lately. We’re getting opportunities and just not driving them in. Hopefully at some point it clicks and we start getting those runs in. We’re getting them on and getting them over. We’re just not finishing and getting them in.”
Reliever Josh Parker was the pitcher of record for the Trojans (6-6). In two innings, he yielded two earned runs on three hits and one walk, with one strikeout.
Hunter Ward pitched three relief innings to pick up the win for the Rams (5-7), giving up no earned runs on two hits and three walks, with three strikeouts. Cameron Verrier threw just two pitches to record the save. His lone base runner was an intentional walk.
Jackson Raynor led South at the plate with one hit and three RBIs.
Grant Millay had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Drew Moore had one hit and two runs scored. Clayton Blackmon had one hit. Josh Schindler had one RBI and one run scored. Jacob Norris scored twice.
Kaleb Slawinski had three hits and one RBI and Hogan Keeping had two hits, including a double, two RBIs and two runs scored to lead Cleveland.
South scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning and Cleveland scored three in the fourth to tie it and three more in the sixth to take the lead.
Norris drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the seventh and Moore reached on an error. Norris scored when Schindler reached on an error and Raynor singled to score Moore and Schindler to tie the game.
In the top of the eighth, Ward drew a walk and Keeping singled and both advanced on a Peyton Marr sacrifice. Ward scored on a ground ball from Sean Dooley and Keeping scored on a base hit from Slawinski.
South was unable to respond in the bottom of the inning.
South Johnston meets rival Triton on Tuesday at noon. The two met at South earlier this season, with the Trojans taking a 5-3 win on March 6.
“We lost (cancelled) a game to them earlier this year, due to the rain, so in a sense, it’s like we’re getting that game back,” Parnell said. “I expect them to come out ready to play. Nobody wants to go out of this thing 0-3. I expect them to come out ready to go tomorrow and I expect our guys to do the same thing.”
JOHNSTON COUNTY EASTER INVITATIONAL
Bunn 19, Smithfield-Selma 2
Clayton 6, Triton 4
Western Harnett 6, Cleveland 4
Wake Forest 4, South Johnston 2
Noon — Smithfield-Selma 11, Triton 6
2:30 p.m. — Cleveland 8, South Johnston 6 (8 innings)
5 p.m. — Bunn 7, Clayton 0
7:30 p.m. — Wake Forest 11, Western Harnett 1 (6 innings)
Noon — South Johnston vs. Triton
2:30 p.m. — Cleveland vs. Smithfield-Selma
5 p.m. — Clayton vs. Western Harnett
7:30 p.m. — Championship, Bunn vs. Wake Forest