Western Harnett took a 12-6 Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity baseball victory at Triton in a make-up game on Thursday night as Andrew Kelly set the tone for the Eagles with a home run to lead off the game.
Western dealt the Hawks their first loss in girls soccer by a 3-2 margin.
The Hawks remained unbeaten in varsity softball, improving to 8-0 with a 6-0 win over the Eagles.
After Kelly’s fence-clearing shot to center on a 1-2 breaking ball, Western got a two-out single from Kaleb Denkins. He stole second and scored on a hit by Collin Welch for a 2-0 Eagles lead.
Triton got a run in the bottom of the first after Colton Neighbors got aboard on a third strike that got away from Denkins behind the plate. Neighbors stole second and came home on a double by Grayson Bradham.
Hawks starter Matthew Dunn held Western scoreless the next two innings, including a 1-2-3 third before the Eagles put a couple of runs up in the fourth after a leadoff single by John Paul Taylor. Noah Kessler walked with two away and both baserunners came home on a double by Kelly.
Austin Riewestahl had a one-out double in the fourth for Triton and scored on a fly by Neighbors as the Hawks cut the lead to 4-2.
Jordi Sancho had a two-run double in a five-run fifth for Western that included singles by Bradley Wilson and Caleb Scott. Welch and Taylor drew walks. Triton had two errors in the big inning.
The Eagles extended the lead to 12-2 with three runs in the top of the seventh with Kessler and Taylor getting hits. The frame included a hit batter, a walk and an error.
Josh McMillan had an RBI double as the Hawks scored four times in the bottom of the seventh. Bert Strickland, Bradham, Dalen Thompson and Josh Roberts drew walks.
Western improved to 6-5 overall and swept the regular-season series with Triton to move to 2-0 in the league. The Eagles were scheduled to host Lee County tonight (Friday, March 23).
“We’ve been swinging the bats well,” said Western coach Dalton Hardee. “We played (Wednesday) night against Pinecrest (10-7 Eagles loss), a very good team. We swung the bats very well against them and it carried over to tonight.
“Our guys work on hitting every day and they did a great job tonight.”
Kelly went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and scored twice as the Eagles collected 13 hits.
“It felt good to get that leadoff home run,” Kelly said. “That’s something you dream about. We had a good night tonight as a team.”
Kessler had two hits, scored twice and had an RBI. Denkins and Taylor each had two hits.
McMillan went 2-for-4 for Triton. Getting hits for the Hawks (1-6, 0-2) were Ethan Hedgepeth, Riewestahl, Bradham, Zyon Hicks, Neighbors and Thompson.
“We showed a little bit of resiliency from time to time,” said Hawks coach Joey Miriello. “It seems like we put together one or two good innings. We need to start doing that a little earlier in the ball game.
“Our success and failure starts on the mound. When we get a good outing on the mound, throwing strikes … for four innings we looked like a pretty good ball team. We had some quality at-bats and we made some plays defensively. I thought Matthew did a very good job on the mound. He’s battled for us this year.
“We haven’t had many balls bounce our way this year, but the boys are battling. They’re getting better, no doubt about it. We have not faced a slouch this year on the mound or anybody as a team. We have played some stiff competition. It’s making us better.
“We’re losing and nobody likes to lose, but it’s a little better after nights like tonight when you don’t necessarily beat yourself. … We put too many runners on base there and they got some big hits in that big inning and that was the difference in the ball game, but we’re showing some improvement in some areas. … We’ve still got guys battling to see who’s going to start.
“We still don’t know who our No. 1 (pitcher) is. I think Matthew is starting to go in that direction.”
Dunn yielded two earned runs over four innings. Colby Parker pitched one-third of an inning and Greg Godwin went the final two and two-thirds for the Hawks.
Starter Dustin Lund went four innings with five strikeouts and got the win for the visitors. Pat Martin, Taylor, Welch and Kessler had mound stints for Western.
Triton was scheduled to host Union Pines on Friday night.
Whaley, Slaughter combine for shutout
Appalachian State signee Leanna Whaley returned to the circle briefly on Thursday for Triton.
“We hit the ball pretty good tonight all the way through the lineup, for the most part,” said Hawks softball coach Mark Whitman. “Proud of the girls. Total team effort again tonight. They did their jobs.”
Freshman Gracyn Slaughter was the winning pitcher for the Hawks (8-0, 2-0 TCSC). In six relief innings, she gave up no runs on one hit and one walk, with four strikeouts.
Western Harnett coach Stephen Hales cited cold offense as the biggest factor in the loss.
“Our bats were cold from the beginning,” Hales said. “We ran ourselves out of the inning, really, in the first inning. Probably my fault, with a baserunning error trying to be aggressive in the first inning and scratch across a few. They’re just a good team. They’re going to hit the ball and have really good pitchers. I was happy with the way we played, though. We battled. We just couldn’t get crucial hits when we had people on base.”
Slaughter has shown she can perform on the varsity level in Whaley’s absence.
“I can’t say enough about Gracyn,” Whitman said. “She comes in with two balls (a 2-0 count with one out) and two runners on and we get out of it. She’s a player. She’s a gamer. That’s what it’s about. That’s one thing I’ve learned in the first seven games without Leanna, I know we’ve got two (Slaughter and Caroline Marshall) that I can bring in.”
Whaley, a senior, returned to action for Triton for the first time since leaving the Hawks’ season-opener on Feb. 28 with an arm strain, but was having trouble hitting her spots after the long time off and pitched just one inning. She remained in the game after Slaughter was sent to the circle in the second inning and was a strong performer at first base, driving in Triton’s first run of the game.
“She just wasn’t on it,” Whitman said. “She’s got to get back in the game time. Nothing she did wrong. But, I needed to leave her bat in the lineup. She puts the ball in play. I may start her again tomorrow, see what’s up and we’ll go from there.”
Another Triton pitcher, sophomore Caroline Marshall, has been out with the flu. She was in the dugout Thursday, but did not play. Whitman said she would be available, if necessary, Friday.
Raynee Reddington went the distance for the Eagles (1-7, 0-2), yielding five earned runs on 10 hits, one walk and one hit batter, with three strikeouts.
Alexis Howard had two hits, including a home run, two RBIs and a run scored and Kaila Cooney had two hits, including her first varsity home run, one RBI and two runs scored to lead Triton at the plate.
Haley Hicks had two hits, one RBI and one run scored. Kathryn Elliott had two doubles. Hayden Smith had a double and a run scored. Whaley had one hit and one RBI. Brittany Ireland had one RBI. Slaughter scored once.
Kasey Genthe and Sidney Roberts had one hit apiece for Western.
Western left a total of seven runners stranded on base, four of them in scoring position.
Western threatened early, when Reddington was hit by a pitch and Genthe singled to start the game. Reddington tried to take third on a flyout to right field, but Ireland’s throw beat her to the base and Cooney applied the tag for a double play. Genthe then advanced to third when Madison Farmer reached on an error, but a ground ball to Cooney ended the threat.
Shelby Duty and Destiny Rowan each drew walks and advanced on a KiKi McCoy sacrifice to give the Eagles another opportunity in the second. But Slaughter came in to pitch, recorded a strikeout and induced a ground ball to Howard, at short, to retire the side.
Triton’s first run came in the bottom of the second inning when Smith doubled and scored on a base hit from Whaley.
“(Whaley) drove it in after Hayden got a big hit, as usual,” Whitman said.
Cooney was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the third and advanced to third when Slaughter reached on an error. Cooney scored on a Hicks single, Slaughter scored on a Howard single and Hicks scored on a ground ball from Ireland.
Cooney hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and Howard hit a solo shot in the fifth.
Triton is at home against conference foe Union Pines (3-5, 2-0) and Western Harnett is at home against conference foe Lee County (0-5, 0-2) in Friday games.
Hawks edged in girls soccer
Western avenged a 5-2 loss at home to the Hawks in girls soccer on Friday night, a contest the Eagles led 2-1 at the half.
“We came out of the gates slow again and were down 2-1 at the half, just like last Friday,” noted Hawks girls soccer coach Brian Foster. “They had one penalty kick and one good goal in the first half.
“We had a goal from Ana-Beth Brewer off of a great leading pass from Billie-Kate Pope.”
The Hawks (4-1, 1-1) got the tying tally on a free kick from Brewer.
“We missed two from point-blank range that came back to haunt us,” Foster said.
Western went ahead on another penalty kick with 10 minutes left.
“We pushed hard, but we couldn’t close the gap,” Foster said.
Lizbeth Arvizu, Layne Randolph and Ivett Vivas had goals for Western (3-3, 1-1).