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Pace, Knights cruise past Panthers

Currituck 5 Pasquotank 0

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Currituck's Cannon Pickell (left) celebrates with Currituck assistant coach Stephen Gilbert after reaching base during the baseball game against Pasquotank, Friday at Pasquotank County High School.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Currituck pitcher Austin Pace seemed to get better as the Knights and Pasquotank baseball teams went deeper into Friday night’s Northeastern Coastal Conference game at Pasquotank County High School.

The 6-foot-11 senior was already pretty solid from the start, too.

Pace pitched six strong shutout innings as Currituck blanked the Panthers 5-0 to remain undefeated in conference play.

He struck out 12 Panthers in the win, only allowing two hits and walking no one, making for one of his best starts of the season.

“I would say so,” Currituck coach Justin Hill said. “I thought he had command. That’s the biggest thing, his command and mound presence. It’s something he’s really working on. He’s always had pretty good stuff and he’s a battler and just wants it.”

The second inning on Friday was the only point when Pasquotank (4-8, 2-4 NCC) really made any kind of threat against the North Carolina State commit.

Senior John McCole and junior Willis Williams each singled to right field in the inning, but were eventually stranded on second and third base as Pace struck out his fifth batter of the first two innings.

Aside from two errors by Currituck (12-3, 6-0 NCC) in the next two frames, Pace shut the Panthers down the rest of the way.

Pace struck out six batters in a row from the fourth inning to the sixth. In the fifth, he struck out the side on 10 pitches and was one close call away from striking out the side in as few pitches as possible.

He retired the last eight batters he faced in the game as senior Derek Whitehurst came into pitch the seventh and faced four batters to close out the game.

“(Currituck’s) pitching is tough. It’s stiff,” Pasquotank coach Brandon Wilkins said.

Pasquotank managed just his three hits combined in its two games against the Knights this week.

Senior Cole Bates pitched a complete game one-hitter in Currituck’s 7-1 win over the Panthers Wednesday.

The Knights’ offense gave Pace some breathing room early in Friday night’s game as well.

After Pasquotank’s McCole escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the first, the second inning didn’t go much better.

Currituck juniors Josh Beazley and Cannon Pickell ripped back-to-back singles to left field to begin the inning and both eventually scored.

Beazley came home on an error with bases loaded and Pickell came home as senior Austin Warren walked on four pitches.

“(Beazley and Pickell) are a couple guys who I think they’d be the first to tell you that they haven’t been hitting what they think they are capable of, so it was good to see that,” Hill said.

The Knights scored another two runs in the third to take a 4-0 lead on an RBI single by junior Jackson Gay and a sacrifice fly by Pickell.

Pickell and sophomore Spencer Simpson each went 2-for-4 in the game.

Currituck’s offense had bases loaded at some point in each of the first three innings.

Senior William Langley knocked in the Knights’ fifth and final run of the game in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly.

The Knights keep pace with First Flight as the only two teams to still be unbeaten in conference play.

“We can be very special in all areas of the game really,” Hill said. “It’s just about putting it all together at the same time and doing it consistently.”

Pasquotank’s biggest bright spot of the game was senior Jason Stallings.

For having not pitched in a varsity game since his sophomore year, he did well in relief of McCole, who gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in four innings.

After giving up a run in the fifth, Stallings retired the side in order in the sixth and struck out three guys in a row into the seventh.

“We threw three guys into the bullpen tonight and he stuck out, so we threw him in and he shined,” Wilkins said. “He’s been hitting the cover off the baseball too, probably around .470 after tonight, so he’s an asset.”

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