Aces advance to regional final
Aces will begin three-game series on Tuesday
Craig Moyer Sports Wrtier
Friday, May 19, 2017
EDENTON — The Aces came back from an early deficit to defeat North Lenoir 5-2 on Thursday night to advance to the east region final series. The Hawks got off to a hot start in the top of the first inning against Aces’ starting pitcher, senior Mathew Benfield. North Lenoir’s right fielder reached on a single and was followed by catcher Colby McLawhorn, who drove a hanging pitch over the wall in straight away center field, giving the Hawks an early 2-0 lead.
The Aces responded right away in the bottom of the first, notching five hits and plating three runs to take the lead at 3-2. “They hit us with a knockout blow, but we answered the bell and that was huge,” Edenton coach Bob Jordan said.
A one run lead was all Benfield needed, as he went six innings, striking out seven North Lenoir batters and only allowing the two runs in the first inning.
“After the inning we talked about how tough pitchers respond and he came back and pitched a great game the rest of the way,” Jordan said.
Benfield got in a jam in the top of the sixth as North Lenoir loaded the bases, but he recovered by striking out center fielder Reed Parris on a full-count pitch. Senior Patrick Downum came in to pitch the final inning for the Aces, and after allowing the first two batters to reach base, he responded by retiring the next three batters.
The Aces padded their lead in the bottom of the second, as Khalil Blount led things off by reaching on an infield single and then stole second. After a Jaden Bobbitt walk, shortstop Ben Ward grounded in to a fielders choice to second base, scoring Blount from third. Downum then drove a pitch to the wall for a double, bringing Ward around to score and widening the Aces’ lead to 5-2. Both teams were held scoreless for the remaining 4 1/2 inning as pitching controlled the game on both sides down the stretch.
“We have got more work to do, we were happy we won the game, but at the same time we are going to be focused and putting forth our best effort in the next round,” Jordan said.
With many key contributors from last season being back from last season’s deep run in to the playoffs, coach Jordan sees experience helping his team against tough competition.“The fact that they have been there and they are able to draw from that experience, it helped us tonight when we got down,” Jordan said.
The second seeded Aces will face off against either number one seed South Granville or fifth seeded Randleman in a best-of-three series in the east region final, beginning Tuesday. Edenton and South Granville met in last years east region final, as the Vikings took the series in two games, 4-0 and 4-3.