South Pointe Stallions scratch out win over Rocky River in Wheels tourney

bmccormick@heraldonline.comApril 3, 2013 

— David Hoover’s walk-off RBI single helped South Pointe scratch out a 2-1 win against Rocky River Wednesday night in both team’s Wheels Baseball Invitational opener. South Pointe entered the Wheels with consecutive losses to region foes Rock Hill, Northwestern, Lancaster and Clover. The Stallions mustered 12 runs in the four defeats, but did just enough Wednesday night to get off to a good start in the tournament.

“Right now for our ball club, we needed a win to get back on track a bit,” said South Pointe coach Jason Terry. “We are in a hitting slump. We’re trying everything we can in practice, breaking people’s swings down, videoing them.”

None of that mattered against the scrappy Ravens (1-9), who kept the Stallions (9-7) at bay much of the game until Terry’s club eked out a tying run in the sixth. South Pointe starting pitcher Chris Beamguard allowed just four hits and one run and combined with reliever Jake Riggins to throw a perfect last four innings, buying the Stallions time until their bats came around in the decisive bottom of the eighth inning.

“Chris Beamguard did an exceptional job on the mound of keeping us in the ballgame,” said Terry, “and Jake Riggins hasn’t thrown a lot of innings for us this year, but we had confidence in him and he came in and shut the door for us, and gave us an opportunity to win.”

Wade Hopper, who was 3-for-4, led off the eighth with a single and Austin Harrigan followed with a well-executed bunt that elicited a throwing error from the Rocky River infield. Both runners advanced an extra base and two batters later, Hoover, pinch-hitting in his first at-bat of the night, delivered with a shot through the left side of the infield that allowed Hopper to stride home for the winning run.

“Our pitchers have put up great performances all year,” said Hopper. “We just haven’t been able to capitalize at the plate.”

A night removed from being two-hit by Clover in a 2-0 loss, the Stallions needed every one of their two runs on Wednesday, especially after Rocky River took a surprise 1-0 lead in the top of the second frame. Jalen Best’s rip to the outfield fell just short of Ian Hinson’s dive in centerfield, and he advanced to second base, then third on a ground-out and a sacrifice fly. Best strolled home when Adrian Cathcart decked a triple into the left and centerfield gap to put the three-year-old school from Mint Hill, N.C., in front.

South Pointe got a scare in the next frame when Beamguard took a line drive blast to the chest. After plopping down to the turf, he returned to his feet, and actually improved on the mound from thereon, allowing just one hit and no runs the rest of the way.

“I swear I thought he was dead because I thought it him in the face,” Hopper said afterward. “I’m so glad he’s okay. Dude pitched a gem. You really can’t ask for much more from him.”

The Stallions put plenty of bats on baseballs, but most of the contact ended in a Rocky River glove. Nine of South Pointe’s first 12 outs were fly balls, symptomatic of a team eager to break out of a slump with a big hit.

Eventually, the tying run came. Lefty Hopper led off the sixth, slapping a single into the opposite field and then moving to second on Harrigan’s sac bunt, one of two he executed perfectly in the game.

“The big key for us was being able to do the small things,” said Terry. “Austin Harrigan had two clutch bunts for us that got runners in scoring position, and the last one led to the winning run.”

A wild pitch from Ravens hurler Kyle Anderson moved Hopper to third and he scored when designated hitter Nick Robbins belted a sacrifice fly ball to center.

The win, and the six hits, provided palpable relief to the Stallions.

“Right now we just need to string hits together, and good at-bats together,” said Hopper.

Rocky River 01000000- 142
South Pointe 00000101- 260

Chris Beamguard (8), Jake Riggins (SP); Kyle Anderson (8), Matt Ritch (RR); 3B- Adrian Cathcart (RR); 2B- Kyle Anderson (RR); Leading hitters- Rocky River: Cathcart 1-3, RBI, Anderson 1-3; South Pointe: Hopper 3-4, Hoover 1-1, RBI; Records: Rocky River 1-9; South Pointe 9-7.

Nansemond River 22, St. Vincent Palloti 0: The Warriors from Nansemond River (Va.) defeated the St. Vincent Palloti Panthers (Md.) 22-0 Wednesday night.

The Panthers (6-4) committed eight errors and coach Pat Couktemanche had to concede the result and pull his team off the field with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fifth due to not having enough pitchers.

The Warriors (5-3) sent 16 batters to the plate and scored 11 in the first inning. They plated another nine with the help of four errors in the third. Robert Fitzwater started on the hill for the Warriors and only gave up three hits and struck out seven against one walk in four innings.

Steven Bowers

Bret McCormick •  329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T

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