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Head coach Mike Alderson has spent much of the last two weeks tinkering with several lineups as his veteran-laden West Brunswick baseball squad suffered a pair of lopsided losses during the early stages of the 2013 season. After dropping an 11-3 decision to Whiteville in the Waccamaw Conference opener, Alderson tweaked the lineup for his club’s next game Friday against cross-county rival North Brunswick.
The decision worked brilliantly, thanks in large part to performances by junior Chandler Taylor and senior pitcher Landon Tilley.
Taylor and Tilley guided the Trojans to a 14-1 victory over the Scorpions Friday night in Shallotte, thanks largely in part to an 11-run outburst in the fourth frame.
Leading 3-1 heading into the stanza, the potent West lineup displayed its potential and quickly put the game out of reach. Markel Jones (2-for-3, three runs) pushed the lead to 5-1 with a two-run double to left center. Taylor drove in his first run of the contest with a sacrifice fly to deep left field, extending West’s lead to 6-1. Dylan Darguzas (1-for-3), Dustin Darguzas (1-for-2, two runs, two stolen bases) and Khalil Gause (2-for-3) followed with consecutive singles and Hunter Howard had a run-scoring groundout, giving the Trojans a 10-1 lead.
Brett Babson (1-for-2, two runs) and Erick Hill (1-for-3, two runs) delivered RBI singles and Taylor capped the fourth-inning explosion with a two-run single to center.
West had 11 runs on eight hits during the frame and took advantage of four errors by North Brunswick (3-3, 1-1). The Trojans sent 15 batters to the plate in the fourth while four different players scored two runs.
Perhaps no Trojan had more fun than a relieved and relatively healthy Taylor.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve had during any game in my career,” he said.
“Everybody was alive. We started hitting and just kept scoring.”
His performance may have stunned others, but not Alderson.
“He can really swing the bat,” said Alderson, hardly surprised by Taylor’s emphatic return despite the long layoff in the offseason. “He can’t throw yet, but we have to have his bat in the lineup. You saw what he did tonight.”
West inflicted most of its fourth-inning damage off North Brunswick’s Randy Clark, who allowed nine runs on seven hits. Kevon Perkins took the loss for the Scorpions. The junior southpaw surrendered five runs (four earned) on five hits in three frames. He walked three and struck out a pair before he was relieved by Clark with two on and no outs in the fourth.
Taylor, who will be West Brunswick’s designated hitter while he continues to rehab his throwing shoulder, had three base hits and three RBIs to lead West Brunswick’s charge. Unable to face live pitching since last October, Taylor has registered four hits in five at-bats, picking up where he left off in 2012 as one of the team’s leading sluggers.
The offense provided more than enough run support for Tilley, who saw his first action on the mound in 2013. The senior right-hander fired a complete game, surrendering just one hit—a one-out single by Shak Graham in the top of the first—in five innings of work. The game was halted in the fifth under the 10-run mercy rule. Tilley faced just four batters over the minimum while walking three and striking out six. He yielded one unearned run in his season debut.
“We’ve been waiting for him,” Alderson said of Tilley, who led the Trojans in nearly every pitching statistical category a year ago.
“He told us he wanted the ball tonight so we gave it to him. I wanted to limit him to about 70 pitches. He did a good job.”
West will hit the road March 18 for a non-conference game at Socastee, S.C. The Trojans defeated the Braves 6-5 in the first meeting between the schools.
The victory was the 331st for Alderson.