By VAN HOLLAND
Excitement filled Municipal Stadium Wednesday night as the host team Tarboro Vikings fought back from a seven run deficit against the St. Maria Goretti Gaels to earn the 11-10 win.
Momentum is something the Vikings haven't had on their side this season, but they turned the tide and made sure they caught momentum heading into today's action.
Trailing 10-5 heading into the bottom of sixth inning, the Vikings were destined to make a comeback against the Gaels. It happened with just one hit in the inning and Tarboro was back in business. They tied the game up in the sixth after Gaels pitcher Casey Bartholomew hit four batters that inning and walked one. Tarboro sent 11 batters to the plate that inning and knew something good would come out of it and it did. Travis Martin hit a deep fly ball to center field to score the winning run.
"We have been looking for a momentum swing all season and what better place to get it then here during the classic," Tarboro coach Justin Smith said. "We battled back and earned the win. I am proud of my guys for not giving up and fighting until the end."
Tarboro had only three hits in the game, but were able to draw 10 walks and force the Gaels to commit three crucial errors.
"We didn't hit but we took advantage of the situations that were given to us," Smith said. "We hit the ball hard when we needed to hit the ball hard. We have concentrated on taking advantage of mistakes our opponents make and use them in our favor."
St. Maria Goretti starter, Kevin Proctor, was sitting on cruise control through the first five innings, but the coaching staff decided to make a change. Proctor had a no-hitter going into the fifth, until Will Dupree broke it up on a RBI triple to right-center field. Proctor threw five innings allowing only one hit, but gave up five runs. He struck out eight and walked four.
Tarboro used four pitchers throughout the game. Jordyn Holland started for Tarboro, but wasn't effective as he had been in his previous two starts. He lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on six hits, while walking four and striking out five. Dupree gave the Vikings 1 1/3 innings of work after relieving Holland. He gave up three runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Freshman Trey Wells threw the sixth and started the seventh and was relieved by
senior Trey Radford who earned the win. He threw the seventh inning and struck out two and walked one.
"Our pitching has been great for us all season," Smith said. "Jordyn didn't have his best stuff but we were able to piece together some guys to get the job done for us."
Smith was proud of his team for not giving up, because this season has been one where the Vikings trailed and they got down on themselves and didn't fight back. That all changed in the fifth inning when the Vikings were elated in the dugout and had fire going through their eyes. Senior leadership took over for the first time this year and had the entire team up cheering their teammates on. That forced the Vikings to make things happen and it turned into a positive for them.
"Whatever they decided to do to get pumped up worked for us," Smith said. "They were determined they weren't going down this way and had their minds set to win. It is just something about Tarboro kids playing in the classic because they are going to battle and come back. Sometimes people think it isn't possible but these kids wanted to win this game."
Smith had his team taking pitches late in the game when the Gaels pitchers were struggling. It came back to pay off for them.
Markese Clapp had a big hit in the sixth when he hit a two run double to over the center fielder's head to tie the game up.
Tarboro will play Jefferson Area Falcons at 7 p.m. tonight.