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By Shannon Leslie
LELAND—The North Brunswick Scorpions baseball team was riding high on an eight-game winning streak when they hosted conference rival Whiteville on Friday. North won the previous meeting 8-6 at Whiteville back in March, but this time, even with a late comeback by North, Whiteville held on for a 9-7 victory. The victory put Whiteville in first in the conference and dropped North into a three-way for second.
But on this night, after North jumped out to a one-run lead in the bottom of the second, Whiteville’s bats came alive in the top of the third. North pitcher Tyler Barnes, who had started the game, got into a bind after giving up and infield single and then back-to-back errors by the infield. With the bases loaded, Barnes walked two batters in a row, which gave Whiteville the 2-1 lead.
North Coach Randy Fennell brought in David Zacek to pitch. Zacek struggled even more. He gave up a two-run double to the first batter. A sacrifice fly RBI scored a run. A double off the left field wall scored another, and then a single scored the final and sixth run of the inning.
Whiteville continued to do some more damage in the fourth. Zacek gave up a double to the first batter. Matt Lowry came in to pitch. Lowry slowed Whiteville down but still gave up a walk and one run off a fielder’s choice.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Scorpions left runners stranded on the corners.
In the bottom of the fifth, Lowry hit a one-run double to knock in Steven Linkous and cut the lead to 8-2.
North’s offense and defense continued to fight back in the sixth. Lowry struck out the side in the top of the inning and in the bottom half the offense exploded with five runs.
With one out, three straight Scorpions reached base on a walk, an error and an infield single. Kevin Perkins knocked them in with a three-run double. With two outs, Jared Strange kept the inning alive by reaching first on a walk. Lowry then stepped up and picked up his second double of the night and drove in Perkins and Strange, cutting the lead to 8-7 going into the seventh.
Lowry struggled in the top of the seventh. He gave up a double to the leadoff batter, then a walk. After a double steal and a wild pitch, Whiteville scraped up one more run to give them a little cushioning heading into the bottom of the seventh. North didn’t get a single baserunner in the bottom half of the inning as Whiteville prevailed for the victory.