By VAN HOLLAND
PINETOPS – Tarboro Vikings coach Justin Smith has counted on his senior pitching time and time again this season. That didn't change Tuesday night when he handed senior right-hander Will Dupree the ball against county and Eastern Plains Conference rivals, the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars. Smith knew he had a lot on the line heading into the game. Tarboro had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive and try to seal the fourth spot in the conference and knew SouthWest was going to be gunning for his Tarboro team.
"Our senior pitchers have been very big for us this season," Smith said. "I have counted on our pitchers this season and it has been our seniors who have led us most of the time when they have been given the ball."
The Vikings took advantage of early wild Cougar pitching and won 6-0, behind a near perfect game from Dupree. He allowed just one base runner, which was a hit he gave up in the bottom of the third inning. Dupree got the win after throwing the complete game, one hitter. He also struck out four.
"I just wanted to get the first pitch over for a strike to every batter," Dupree said. "I had confidence in myself and my defense the entire game. I did almost the same thing last year against them and knew there was mainly the same guys on this team so I had my mind set."
Dupree said on the hit he gave up to Cougar Josh Williams, he just left a fast ball too much over the plate.
"We could have got him on maybe another pitch, but it worked out in the end," Dupree said. "We got the win and that is what counts."
Tarboro jumped out on Cougars pitcher Brayden Morris in the first inning. Morris had some control problems and hit three batters in his two innings of work. He walked five total. He gave up six runs on just three hits and struck out two and took the loss.
The first two innings were all the Vikings needed. They scored all their runs in those two innings and sailed the rest of the way behind Dupree's performance.
Tristan Bateman led off with a single to right. Travis Martin was then hit by a pitch. Dupree then drew a walk. With the bases loaded, Joe Miller was hit by a pitch, which scored Bateman. Markese Clapp then ground out to shortstop and scored Martin. Jordyn Holland then hit the ball back up the middle and was thrown out at first, but drove in Dupree to make it 3-0.
In the second, Corey Baker was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Tyler Harris then drew a walk. Bateman then bunted and the Cougars catcher threw the ball away trying to get Baker at third and he scored on the wild throw, putting runners at second and third. Martin grounded out and drove in a run. Then Dupree singled to center to score the sixth run for the Vikings.
SouthWest tried to take momentum of the game, when they changed pitchers in the third. Third-year coach Tommy Tolson brought in Chris Owens, who was also near perfect when he took the mound in relief. He allowed only two base runners in five innings of work and struck out four. Those two runners came from walks. The Cougars committed two errors behind their pitchers, but just couldn't get their offensive flow going. The have only one hit in their last 14 innings of play.
Tarboro got only three hits in the game, but Smith was glad to see his team advance runners when they had chances and also score runs.
"It was nice to get some runs up on the board early," Smith said. "It really takes a lot of pressure off of us. When we do that we can play a little more loose and play like I expect them to do."
Tarboro ends their regular season at Farmville Central Friday night and SouthWest travels to Kinston and will play at Grainger Stadium. both games start at 7 p.m.