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For the better part of six innings Friday, a Beddingfield High varsity baseball team that hasn’t won a game all season found itself within striking distance of a Nash Central team without a loss to its name in the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference.
In fact, the Bruins brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning as they trailed 6-4. But junior Ty Johnson grounded out, and as the rain intensified in the seventh inning, Nash Central, a late-innings team all season, used three hits and a handful of Beddingfield miscues to post a five-run inning and pull away for an 11-5 victory.
Beddingfield remained winless through 11 games and 0-6 in EPC play, while Nash Central moved to 13-4 in all games, 6-0 in league play. Both the Bulldogs and North Johnston are unbeaten in conference play ahead of next week’s home-and-away series.
“We played hard,” Beddingfield head coach Noah Edens said. “It’s just that one inning like that got us two nights ago (an 8-3 loss to Nash Central) and got us last week. It seems like we play well for a certain amount of time, and then when the gates open, we can’t seem a way to stop it.”
With the aid of gap-to-gap defense by sophomore centerfielder Garrett Harris and the pitching of senior Mann Farmer, Beddingfield hung around and stayed one quality inning away from potentially shaking up the conference race.
Farmer gave up eight hits over six innings, but carried deficits of 2-1 into the fourth and 4-2 after five complete. Farmer struck out five and walked three, aiding his cause with an RBI single in the fifth. A Farmer groundout enabled the Bruins to climb within 6-4 in the sixth and bring the go-ahead run to the plate after the Bulldogs opted to issue an intentional walk to junior Rio Montes.
“Mann threw the ball really well,” Edens said. “He had one of his best outings of the year. But we supported him defensively. We made the plays we should have made and made a couple plays that were outside of our — it won’t routine.”
Nash Central made four errors, compared to three for Beddingfield. As the rain picked up after the fifth — past the point of an official game — the proceedings became sloppier. A delay took place in the seventh inning for the mound to be raked and treated with fresh dirt.
The Bulldogs entered play with four walk-off wins this year, making them prime candidates to get quality at-bats in the later innings. Head coach Willie Langley observed that a slow start at the plate wasn’t at all unusual for his club.
“We’re a late team,” Langley said. “We’ve walked off on several teams this year and been behind. We’ve come from behind a lot. It seems like we don’t get going until late. Their pitcher was good. I thought he was really good. And their record does not reflect how good of a team they are. They’re going to beat somebody, and for a while there tonight, I thought it was going to be us.”
Within the last three weeks, Edens has seen a different Beddingfield team. Before that span, a winless season appeared to be barreling towards the Bruins.
“Three weeks ago, yes,” Edens said of his winless season forecast. “Now, no. We missed some games early with the weather and couldn’t get us scheduled back. I don’t know if it’s a game thing. Maybe if we had gotten some games in earlier, we’d have more game experience. We don’t have a lot of freshmen, but we have a lot of inexperienced baseball players.”
Hunter Robinson struck out 10 Beddingfield batters and allowed five hits in getting the win for Nash Central.
Beddingfield replied to Nash Central’s two-run second inning by scoring on an error in the third. That scored senior Austin Slate, who walked. Nash Central tacked on an unearned run in the fourth and a run-scoring double by Robinson in the fifth before Farmer’s RBI single plated Slate, who doubled. Juniors Devallice Rasberry and Chance Scott both walked and came around to score in the sixth.
Scott scored on a passed ball, while Rasberry touched home on Farmer’s groundout before the stage was set for the Bruins’ tumultuous seventh inning.
Beddingfield begins its home-and-away conference swing with SouthWest Edgecombe on Tuesday with a home contest against the Cougars.
Score by innings:
Nash Central 020 112 5 — 11
Beddingfield 001 012 1 — 5
WP-Hunter Robinson 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 10 SO LP-Mann Farmer 6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Beddingfield: Rio Montes 2-2, Austin Slate 1-3, 2B; Nash Central: Andrew Page 3-4, Chandler Padgett 2-5, 2B, RBI, Scott Henry 2-3, RBI, Jay Bulluck 1-3, RBI, Hunter Robinson 1-1, 2B, RBI.