By VAN HOLLAND
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The Tarboro Vikings are in a situation where they need to win the remainder of their conference games to make the playoffs, but they didn't get off to a good start Tuesday. They forgot to bring their hitting sticks with them when they hosted the Greene Central Rams in Eastern Plains Conference action on senior night. Rams pitcher Ben Brann held the Vikings to just two hits as they shutout Tarboro 3-0.
"We battled and had a chance to win in the end when we left the bases loaded," Tarboro coach Justin Smith said. "I thought we worked the count better tonight at the plate and we played better defensively."
Smith thought being down just three runs they would have a chance to win, but it didn't work out that way. Tarboro had the bases loaded in the seventh and senior Tyler Harris struck out looking to end the game. They also had a chance in the fourth inning to manufacture a run with runners on first and third, but Markese Clapp looked at a called third strike and that ended the threat.
Corey Baker and Trey Radford were the only two Vikings to get hits.
"Their pitcher threw a really good game and kept us off balance most of the game," Smith said. "We hit some balls hard, but they just didn't fall for us. So I tip my caps to them for pulling out the win."
Will Dupree threw the ball well for the Vikings, but he made a couple of mistakes in the sixth inning that came back to haunt Tarboro. On a 2-1 count to Ram Chad Murphy, Dupree left a pitch belt high and Murphy turned on it and drove it over the right field fence for the first run of the game. Dupree walked the next batter, Kevin Ormand and on the first pitch to Austin Batchelor, Ormand stole second. Batchelor then got a base hit up the middle and had runners at first and third. On the second pitch to Austin Mooring, Dupree threw a wild pitch that got by catcher Jordyn Holland and the Rams added their second run of the inning.
Dupree threw six inning, taking the loss. He gave up two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out eight.
Clapp threw the seventh and gave up one run after Ormand hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Brann.
Tarboro's defense was perfect. They are still having trouble bringing all three phases of the game together and Smith knows that needs to be corrected before Thursday.
"We are going to have to find our mental toughness," Smith said. "We have to get strong mentally and go out be able to make the plays in the field and then we need to capitalize at the plate with runners on base."
Tarboro is in a situation now that they need to win their remaining four conference games if they want a shot at making the playoffs.
Smith knows his team gets down on themselves easily and he wants to try to correct everything by Thursday when they travel to play Beddingfield. The Bruins beat the Vikings the first time this season 3-2. Tarboro led the majority of the game, but a bad defensive seventh inning allowed all three Bruin runs to score.
"It is going to take us pulling together as a team to be able to win," Smith said. "Everybody is just going to have to work together."