With each team providing one of its best offensive performances of the season, Triton’s varsity baseball team edged visiting Tri-County Six 3-A Conference and Harnett County rival Harnett Central, 8-6, on Tuesday.
“They were swinging it well,” said Triton coach Jacob Willis. “With the long break (Triton had not played since May 29 because of final exams and graduation), you never know how they’re going to come out of it. But they came out swinging it well. They were aggressive at the plate. It was good to see.”
Harnett Central coach Lucas Smith said missed opportunities were costly for the Trojans.
“Triton was on tonight from the beginning of the game,” Smith said. “They were stroking the ball. Any pitcher we would have put out there tonight, they would have hit. We had a few opportunities we missed making plays and it came back to bite us.”
Senior Ethan Glover pitched six-and-two-thirds innings to record the win on the mound for the Hawks (4-8, 2-6 TCC). He was one out shy of a complete game, but had to exit due to the pitch count rule. He gave up two earned runs on eight hits and no walks, with one hit batter, with nine strikeouts.
“Would have loved to have been able to keep him in there to finish that thing, that’s for sure,” Willis said. “But he’s thrown well all year. He’s gotten up there and he’s battled. He’s done everything he possibly can to help this team win every time that he gets on the mound.”
Junior Hayden Pope struck out the lone batter he faced to record the save.
“It was good to see him come out and fire on all cylinders,” Willis said.
Junior Luke Bailey was the pitcher of record for the Trojans (1-10, 1-8). In two innings of relief, he yielded one earned run on four hits and one walk, with three strikeouts. Junior Dalton Snipes pitched four innings, giving up one earned run on six hits, two walks and one hit batter, with six strikeouts.
Senior Dalen Thompson had two hits, including a double, one RBI and two runs score and senior Payden Crews and sophomore Xander Johnson each had two hits, including a double, and one RBI to lead Triton offensively.
Anthony Jones had a double and two RBIs. Riley Colville had a double, one RBI and one run scored. Ross Stevens had a double and two runs scored. Sam Capps had one hit and one run scored. Glover and Ira Matthews scored one run apiece.
Junior Dalton Ausley had two hits, including a double, and two runs scored and senior Joey Yanke had two hits and one RBI to lead Central.
Ryder Carroll had one hit, two RBIs and one run scored. Lincoln Ihler had a double, one RBI and one run scored. Brandon Barefoot had one hit, one RBI and one run scored. Sebastian Owens had a double and one run scored.
“Everybody just stayed positive,” Smith said. “Everybody rallied. It’s (hitting) contagious. Once the dugout gets up, good energy gets flowing and everybody starts hitting the baseball.”
Triton scored one run in the second inning, three in the third and four in the fifth. Harnett Central scored two runs in the third inning, three in the fifth and one in the sixth.
The turning point for the Hawks was answering with four runs in the bottom of the fifth after the Trojans had taken a 5-4 lead in the top of the inning. Stevens led off with a double and scored on a base hit from Thompson, who scored when Glover reached on an error. Glover scored on a double from Colville, who scored on a double from Johnson.
“We battled at the plate, especially later in the counts,” Willis said. “I think we had two or three two-strike hits for RBIs. You can’t do that without battling hard at the plate.”
Triton is at home against conference leader Union Pines (11-1, 7-1) on Thursday before Triton and Harnett Central meet again at Central to end the regular season on Friday.
“We’re just going to try hard and play our best baseball,” Willis said. “Up to this point I think we had left a lot on the table and I think if we continue to see things start clicking, we can have a pretty competitive week.”
Smith said fundamental baseball would be the key to ending on a high note.
“We’ve got to put it together,” Smith said. “We’ve got to come back and hit the baseball like we did tonight and make the easy plays that we missed tonight. We don’t have to be super heroes or come with any different nine players. We just have to make the easy baseball plays.”