Rams fall in thrilling season opener
by Matthew Gorry
BOONVILLE - Starmount opened the 2013 season Friday night with two hard-luck losses to solid 1A squads.
In the season opener against Mountain Valley Conference rival West Wilkes, the Rams let a late lead slip away before falling 9-3 in extra innings. East Surry then held off Starmount 11-8 Saturday in a make-up contest from earlier in the week.
The Blackhawks struck first with an early run without a base hit in the first inning Friday night. Luke Shore and Samuel Stone saved another run in the frame with strong relay throw from center to short to gun down a runner at the plate.
Offensively, the Rams struggled in the blistering cold weather, finally picking up their first hit in the fourth inning.
After Tanner Mathis drew a walk to lead off the frame, Ben Combs blooped a single down the left-field line. Zack Worley followed with a bunt single to third to load the bases with nobody out.
With Stone at the dish, Mathis stole home on a suicide squeeze attempt to tie the game at 1-1. Two batters later, attempting another suicide squeeze, Combs was tagged out coming home as Stone was caught breaking for second as the Rams failed to capitalize on the runners in scoring position.
The Rams put together another big inning in the fifth playing small ball.
Shore reached first on an infield single off the pitchers’ leg before stealing second. Sawyer Davis followed with a bunt single to third, advancing to second on keen base running on the play, setting up Starmount with two runners in scoring position and one out.
Caleb West broke through with a single past a diving shortstop, plating two runs to give the Rams a 3-1 edge.
Still clinging to the two-run lead heading to the top-half of the seventh, the Blackhawks finally got to sophomore Blake Cheek on the mound.
West clawed their way back to tie the game at 3-3 with two outs in the frame, sending the game to extra innings.
After 1-2-3 innings in the eighth for both squads, the ‘Hawks exploded for six runs in the ninth to cruise to the 9-3 victory.
Mathis picked up the tough loss, allowing just one unearned run in 3.2 innings of work, while striking out four. Cheek pitched 4.1 solid innings in his first varsity game, striking out three.
The Rams return to the field Wednesday night in a non-conference tilt with Surry Central before heading to Ashe County Friday night.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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