The Tarboro 12-under All-Star team managed to stay undefeated and hit their way into the semifinal round Wednesday night when they defeated Washington White 13-3 in four innings. This was the third game that Tarboro won by the mercy rule and they have outscored their opponents 37-4.
"I saw some good things tonight but our pitching wasn't what I hoped it would be," Tarboro coach Bill Howerin said. "We walked too many batters and we made some errors."
Tarboro pitchers walked five batters, which four came in the first two innings of the game. Mason Riley started for Tarboro, but struggled with his command. He threw just one plus inning before Howerin relieved him of his duties and inserted Dillon Johnson. Riley managed to strike out two and didn't allow a hit. He just couldn't get command of his pitches early on.
"Our pitching needs a little bit of work before we play Friday," Howerin said. "I had some guys come in in relief and give us some good productive innings."
Johnson worked two innings and gave up three unearned runs off four hits. He struck out four and his defense made three errors behind him.
Justin Rameriz shut down Washington in the top of the fourth after walking the lead off batter. Rameriz did his part offensively though. He was 4 for 4 with three doubles, a home run in the second inning, which was his third of the tournament and had three RBIs.
Tarboro collected 14 hits and took advantage of four Washington errors. Mike Wiggins added three hits and a RBI, Jesus Garcia hit his third home run of the tournament and Johnson also added a home run. Tanner Wittig added an RBI single and Riley added two hits and two RBIs.
"I am very impressed with our offense right now," Howerin said. "I knew most of these guys could hit the ball, but I think we will face a little better pitching here on out."
Howerin believes that hitting isn't just about the skills you possess, it is about the pitching that a player is facing.
Howerin and his all-star team now have a challenge ahead of them. They play Washington Blue Friday night at 6:30 p.m. The winner of that game moves into the championship game.
"We have to come ready to play," Howerin said. "We didn't use our best pitcher Jesus Garcia tonight and he has had plenty of rest. I will ride him as far as I can."
Howerin said he is going to have a game plan in place and he is hoping he doesn't have to use Garcia the entire game and can save some of his innings.
Each pitcher is only allowed to throw 12 innings per tournament and if they throw three or more innings in a game then they have to have a calendar days rest.
For Tarboro to win the championship, they have to win just two more games and they will advance to the state tournament in Williamston.
"I think we have a good shot at winning,"Howerin said. "I would love to put up a lot of runs on them but I just don't think we are going to be able to. I am just not counting on it."