By VAN HOLLAND
PINETOPS – The difference was an eight run second inning that helped lift the North Pitt Panthers over the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars Wednesday night in Eastern Plains Conference action. North Pitt won 13-8 even though both teams had 13 hits apiece.
"I was pleased with the way we battled back against a great baseball team," Cougars coach Tommy Tolson said. "I was tickled to death at how we didn't give up and battled back from the large deficit and made a run towards the end."
The Cougars trailed by as many as 11 runs at one point in the game, but they continued to fight back and didn't give in.
The difference in the game was the top of the second inning when North Pitt sent 13 batters to the plate and eight of them scored. The Panthers pounded out seven hits that inning and took advantage of three walks. They were finding the gaps and had balls dropping for them as if it was their night. Nothing went wrong for the Panthers offensively.
North Pitt was trying to end the game in five innings by the 10-run mercy rule, but SouthWest had something else in mind.
Trailing 10-0 in the bottom of the second, Cole Pierce hit a RBI single. Then the Cougars chipped away at the lead in the third and cut it to nine after the Panthers scored another run. The Cougars' runs that inning came when Justin Letchworth and Jarratt Mobley scored on a wild throw to second by the catcher which made it 11-3.
North Pitt added another run in the fourth and the Cougars answered right back when Mobley got a RBI single to left field.
The Panthers tacked on their 13th run of the game in the fifth and then the Cougars went to work offensively.
In the bottom half of the sixth, SouthWest sent eight batters to the plate and scored four runs. Nick Webb and Letchworth had back to back singles, then Mobley had a RBI double. With runners at second and third, Chris Owens hit a line drive to centerfield and the ball was miss played which allowed Letchworth and Mobley to score, but Owens was thrown out at third. Noah Edmondson then doubled and Zach New followed with a single and Edmondson advanced to third and the throw to get him was wild and he scored to make it 13-8, but the Cougars ran out of gas.
"We have been hitting the ball good in spurts and I am proud of them for hitting like we did in the sixth inning," Tolson said. "We hit it much better then we did Tuesday night. We stayed in there and fought at the plate and got some good hits."
SouthWest has been making some mental and physical mistakes defensively that has costed them some important runs, but they were solid on defense. They committed just two errors, which didn't cost them a run.
"We played good defense the whole game," Tolson said. "We were able to hold it down defensively and make the routine plays. We made some good plays in certain spots."
Letchworth took the loss. He threw four innings giving up 11 runs on 12 hits, while walking three and striking out two. Edmondson threw the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up two runs on two hits and walked one. Josh Williams threw the last inning and walked three.
"They are a great hitting team, but our pitchers did a good job keeping it down in the zone," Tolson said. "They were just able to find the gaps early in the game and hit some good pitches. Most of our pitchers are throwing the ball well right now."
SouthWest isn't out of the playoff hunt just yet. With three games remaining, they could possibly have a long shot at making the playoffs, but they have to win their remaining games.
"We have a whole lot to be working towards," Tolson said. "I am just glad these guys continue to come out and work like they do each day."
The Cougars are back in action Friday when they host the Beddingfield Bruins at 7 p.m.