By VAN HOLLAND
CARRBORO – After defeating the No. 1 seed in the playoffs Friday, the Tarboro Vikings forgot one thing, they had to hit the ball again Tuesday against the Carrboro Jaguars or their season would be over.
Tarboro failed to be productive at the plate and were eliminated from the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs after losing 8-0 in the second round. Tarboro never gave in after getting down early, but they just couldn't catch a break offensively and get anything going after trailing by five runs after the second inning.
"This is a team I will forever remember for the heart that they had all season," Tarboro coach Justin Smith said. "This is a team that no matter what the score was they were never going to lay their heads down. They just never gave up in any game this season."
After the loss, there were lots of emotions running through the Vikings' seniors and underclassmen, because they wanted to achieve something a Vikings team hadn't done in a long time and that was to advance to the third round.
"It is never easy to see your seniors go down like this and walk off losers," Smith said. "The emotions just show that these kids are a family and fight together."
Tarboro had just six base runners and no one got past second base for the Vikings. They got only five hits and could never get any type of offensive flow going against Carrboro's Seth Andres. He threw a complete game and kept the Viking hitters off balance with his off-speed pitches. Andres was also the strength of the Jaguars offense. He went 3-4 with five RBI's, which came off his two home runs.
"Their pitcher did a good job keeping us off balance," Smith said. "We weren't quite as aggressive today as we were Friday. We just weren't dialed in at the plate and it came back to bite us."
Tarboro started senior Will Dupree, but from the outset he wasn't throwing with command of any of his pitches like he had during the regular season. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings giving up six runs on seven hits. He took the loss.
Dupree gave up a two-run homer to left field in the first to Andres and then in the second with two outs and a 1-2 count, he left a pitch about belt high again and Andres connected again for a three-run homer to left field to give the Jaguars a 5-0 lead.
After the second homer, Smith made a pitching change and brought in senior Trey Radford. He got the last out of the second inning, but that didn't last long, because the Jaguars were able to score three runs off Radford.
The first batter Radford faced in the third hit a fly ball to centerfield that was misplayed and Calvin Wagner got a triple out of it. He later scored on an error at shortstop.
An error in the fourth allowed another Jaguars run to score and they tacked on one more in the sixth.
Tarboro's defense had been playing up to Smith's expectation as of late, but they committed four errors in the game.
"Our defense didn't play like we had been lately," Smith said. "We made some mistakes that hurt us."
Smith has counted on his senior pitchers all season and they haven't let him down even though they had lost some games. They have been reliable all year and come crunch time, Smith knew he could count on them.
Dupree's pitches weren't down in the zone Tuesday like they had been in his previous outings. He left a lot of his pitches up in the zone and the Jaguar hitters were able to make contact with them and get production.
"Will didn't have it early on and Trey came in and picked him up," Smith said. "It has been like that all season if someone is down we pick them up and give them a boost."
Dupree, Radford, Travis Martin, Corey Baker and Tyler Harris are the five seniors that will graduate from Tarboro this year. Smith said those five have meant a lot to the program during their tenure.
"Our seniors mean everything to us," Smith said. "They come prepared and they push each other and the rest of our team to get better."
Smith said it is a big hole that the five seniors are leaving. He said he going to have to find the pieces to fill the void for next year and said they were a special group to coach.
Next year when the Vikings take the field they will be competing in 1-A baseball during conference play.