By VAN HOLLAND
Pitching and getting the big break when it mattered most was the two game changers for the Tarboro Vikings as they defeated county rival the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars 3-1 in Eastern Plains Conference action Thursday night.
Both coaches wanted to win the game and use it as a stepping stone and momentum changer heading into the Easter Classic next week. Tarboro coach Justin Smith and his Vikings got it.
Both teams committed two errors, but the Cougars came back to haunt them as Tarboro took advantage of them and scored a run off of them.
"We played all around good ball tonight," Smith said. "We made the plays in the field and got key hits when we needed them. Our pitching did a fantastic job."
Trey Radford kept the Cougar hitters off balance most of the game. He earned the win and gave up one run on five hits. He walked four and struck out three in 6 1/3 innings of work. Will Dupree came in with one out in the seventh to shut the door on the Cougars to earn his third save of the year.
"Our pitching kept us in the game," Smith said. "Two seniors stepped up and got the job done."
SouthWest coach Tommy Tolson was pleased with his teams overall performance and said if they could've got a key hit then it would've been a different game.
"I was pleased with the way we played tonight," Tolson said. "I am proud of them for bouncing back. I know what they have in their heart and it is just a matter of them making their minds up."
The Cougars down fall came in the third inning, when Vikings first baseman Joe Miller hit a ground ball to second and the Cougars tried to turn a double play. The umpire said shortstop Jarratt Mobley's foot never touched the bag. Tarboro had the bases loaded at the time and two runs scored on the questionable call.
Tarboro scratched an insurance run across in the sixth when they were able to take advantage of two Cougar errors in the inning.
Stephen Thompson took the loss, but it came with a good performance. He threw 4 2/3 innings and gave up just three hits and two runs. He walked seven and struck out four. Brayden Morris relieved Thompson in the fifth and threw 1 1/3 innings. He gave up one run and didn't allow a hit. He walked one and struck out one.
SouthWest struggled at the plate during critical situations. They left 10 runners on base and at least two on in each of the last three innings.
"It is a mental thing when we go to the plate and we don't get it done," Tolson said. "We didn't get any key hits at the right time."
Tolson was frustrated about two questionable calls, but said that is just part of the game and he hated it for his team.
Smith said he believes his team is coming around at the plate, because they are putting the ball in play at the right times and are making things happen.
Dupree, Miller and Jordyn Holland each got a hit apiece fort the Vikings.
SouthWest had six players each get a base hit. Chris Owens single in the fourth was the only one to produce a run.
Both coaches think they have their teams were they need to be heading into the classic next week. They both believe that their team can make it to the championship game, but that can't happen because if they both win their first game in the classic then they will play each other in the second round.