By VAN HOLLAND
ROCKY MOUNT —
ROCKY MOUNT – The pressure is off, is what Tarboro Vikings coach Justin Smith told his team after they defeated the Northern Nash Knights 7-6 Thursday night. Tarboro earned their first win of the season and improve to 1-3.
"It feels great to get that first win under our belts," Smith said. "It always feels good to win but this was a big win for us."
Smith thinks his team overcame a lot during the win. He said his team had been pressing to make routine plays on defense and also were really pressuring themselves at the plate.
"I just think we have been trying to make the perfect play or throw on defense," Smith said. "We have been trying too hard at the plate especially when we have been down in ball games. I am glad to see the guys come through and play up to the level I know they are capable of playing."
Tarboro has been averaging four errors a game defensively, but they cut down on that against the Knights and only committed one, which led to a run.
Smith was pleased to see his team make the routine plays on the defensive side of the ball. He was more impressed with the way his team battled at the plate.
Tarboro scored two runs in the first, four in the second and one in the fourth, which is something they have lacked this year. The seven runs in the game were more runs then they had scored combined in the three previous games they had played.
"Our bats came to life," Smith said. "We did the right things at the right times offensively tonight."
Tarboro took advantage of walks. They were awarded seven free passes in the game to go along with six hits.
The big hit of the game came when Joe Miller came to the plate with the bases loaded in the second inning. He hit a towering fly ball about 30 feet behind the third baseman with two outs and the Knights lost sight of the ball. Tarboro had all three of their runners in motion and they all scored and Miller reached second with a stand up double. Will Dupree added an RBI single and Markese Clapp singled home a run.
"I was glad to see Will and Markese get those two key hits to drive in runs,' Smith said. "We have been taking a better two strike approach at the plate from where it had been. We have worked on that and it has gotten better."
Tarboro moved runners over at the right times and had four stolen bases, which were key to scoring three of the runs.
"We got key hits at the right times when our runners were in scoring position," Smith said. "We were patient at the plate and saw a lot of pitches which is something we had not been doing."
Sophomore Jordyn Holland started on the mound for the Vikings and earned the win. He threw 6 innings, giving up five runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out three. Holland reached his pitch limit of 75 pitches after the sixth and was pulled.
"Jordyn did a great job for us tonight," Smith said. "He stayed ahead of the hitters in the counts and hit his spots. He made great pitches at the right times and got ground ball outs at key times. He gutted through it and gave us six great innings. I just thought it was a great performance by him."
Clapp relieved Holland, but got into a bit of a jam and then Smith decided to go with Dupree to close it out. Clapp went 1/3 of an inning and waked a batter which eventually scored. Dupree threw 2/3 of an inning to earn the save.
"Will came in after Markese struggled and shut it down," Smith said. "Markese threw a lot of pitches Wednesday night and Will was fresh and came in and shut the door on them."
Smith felt like his team really needed the win so it can give them a boost of confidence. He said as hard as they have played this season he was glad to see them be rewarded with a win.
"This is big as far as momentum goes heading back into conference action Friday," Smith said. "I am just glad we were able to pull it out because if we had lost it would had been very tough on us heading into a tough conference schedule."
Tarboro is back in action tonight when they travel to Greene Central to play the Rams at 7 p.m.