By VAN HOLLAND
FARMVILLE – The Tarboro Vikings held their own destiny in their hands Monday night against the Beddingfield Bruins. A win gave them the third seed out of the conference and a loss gave them the fourth seed. The game was played in Farmville as a neutral site for the conference tiebreaker for the third and fourth seeds.
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning with one out, Will Dupree hit a fly ball to centerfield and Tristan Bateman tried to score to tie the game up. But Bateman was called out at the plate on what second-year Tarboro coach Justin Smith thought was a questionable call. Smith rushed out to the home plate umpire and questioned the call, because he thought Bateman had beaten the throw to the plate, but to no avail the call stood and Tarboro lost 3-2 to the Bruins.
After the game, Smith said he takes the credit for the loss, because there was some miscommunication with him and his third base coach.
"This loss falls on me," Smith said. "I take this loss for the team, because we had a miscommunication problem."
Smith was trying to get the coach to get Dupree lay down a bunt to tie the game up, but after it was all said and done, Smith knew it was to late.
"I thought about calling time and making sure coach knew what I wanted," Smith said. "That is why I will take the loss myself."
With the loss, Tarboro will now travels to play the Bunn Wildcats Friday in the first round of the 2-A NCHSAA state playoffs.
Tarboro got only four hits in the game, but that was to be expected. Smith knew his team was going to have trouble like they have in the past when they have faced Bruins pitcher Casey Flora.
Flora doesn't throw hard, but has a weird curveball that throws hitters off balance. Tarboro had a hard time staying back and waiting for the pitch to get to them. They flied out 11 times in the game. That is what they have done each time they faced Flora.
"We faced one of the better pitchers in our conference who has been beaten everyone," Smith said. "We were in the game and I feel like the first inning was our downfall where we gave them two runs."
Smith has relied on his senior pitchers to get him through the season in must win games, but he changed all that Monday when he went to sophomore Jordyn Holland. Holland took the loss, but not without a good effort. He gave up three runs on just five hits, walked four and struck out two in four innings of work.
Two of the three runs came in the first inning on a misplayed fly ball and a bad hop in the infield that turned into a double. That was the difference in the Bruins scoring two runs. The third run came on a passed ball in the third inning when that runner had reached earlier in the inning on an error.
"Jordyn threw the ball well for us," Smith said. "Jordyn battled for us even though he hadn't had much work on the mound. He did a great job for us and got himself out a couple of jams."
Travis Martin came in to relieve Holland in the fifth inning. He gave up two hits and struck out two.
Smith was pleased to see Martin come in and hold the Bruins at bay. Smith knew he hadn't used Martin much this season, but he knew he could get some good innings out of him.
"Travis did what I asked of him," Smith said. "He threw strikes and got hitters out and kept us in the game."
Smith wasn't pleased with the outcome of the game, but he was pleased that his team fought back once again and never quit. That is something that he has praised his team for all season. They never quit regardless of the situation or what the score is.
"We battled the entire game," Smith said. "Look at our stats and our players and we are a team that is going to fight you until the end."
Now that Smith knows who they play Friday in the playoffs, he can prepare for the Wildcats. He has seen the Wildcats play three times this season when they participated in the Easter Classic.
"We know Bunn is going to be a great challenge," Smith said. "I know we have a challenge ahead of us and we embrace it and look forward too it."
Smith said his team's mindset going into Friday is to make Bunn beat them, because they aren't going to give in. He wants his team to be aggressive and swing the bat like he knows they are capable of doing.
Smith feels the Vikings approach has been getting better and is looking forward to Friday night.