Steamers’ infielder Joe Haney launched a two-run home run in the first inning of Thursday’s night first game against the Tarboro River Bandits to start a power punched evening at Tarboro Municipal Stadium.
Six home runs were hit between the two sides over the fourteen innings of baseball. In the end, the doubleheader yielded a split The Steamers (16-11, 10-8) jumped all over the River Bandits (21-10, 14-7) in game one, winning 10-0 to earn their first win of the season at Tarboro Municipal Stadium. In game two, the two sides jockeyed back and forth before a two-run game winning home run from Jackson Cherry sent the River Bandits home with a 8-7 victory.
The aforementioned Haney home run started the action. Left hander Spencer Ambrose, equipped with the two run lead, got his first start of the season and pitched his best outing. In his three innings of work, he didn’t allow a hit, striking out three and walking three.
After two outs to start the top of the fourth inning, the Steamers put together a rally. First baseman Jacob Mustain walked. Shortstop Chase Bruno singled. Right fielder Hunter Cole walked. All of a sudden, left fielder Case Kermode had the bases loaded.
And he capitalized.
A hard ground ball to right field brought home Mustain and Bruno to extend the lead to 4-0.
Cole Bates relieved Ambrose and kept the Tarboro bats silent, striking out two over two innings and allowing just one hit. In the meantime, the offense added runs in a big way in the fifth.
With two on and one out, Mustain came to the plate. He fouled the second pitched he saw high into the air and just in front of the Clams’ dugout. Tarboro’s catcher was unable to make the grab, giving the power hitting left handed bat new life.
The next pitched was also hit in the air, this time to dead center for a three run homer that broke this game wide open. An inning later, Jackson Hipp got in on the fun.
When Hipp stepped to the plate, the Steamers were in danger of squandering two runners in scoring position. Instead, he launched a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence to give the Steamers a 10-0 lead.
His Brown University teammate Sam Duncan slammed the door in the seventh, piggybacking a solid sixth inning from right-hander Blake Gipson. For the next few hours the Steamers stood just 1.5 games out of first place in the PCL East.
Game two started promising. Hipp roped an RBI double in the first inning, plating catcher Allen Brown to put the Steamers ahead. The game was Brown’s first start back after a concussion.
Two innings later, Brown was the one with the RBI double. His shot down the left field line plated Cole to double the lead, 2-0. A solo home run from Pernetti in the top of the fourth, his sixth of the summer, made it 3-0.
It looked like the Clams were cruising. Left hander Clark Dearman had scattered base runners in his first three innings. However, the River Bandits would break through in the fourth.
River Bandits’ left fielder Nick Hussey singled to start the inning and stole second to put a runner in scoring position for right fielder Kendall Pierson. The tall left handed bat singled to center field and Hussey raced home to put a run on the board for Tarboro.
After recording two outs, Dearman walked River Bandits’ shortstop Anthony Sherwin to put two on with two outs. The pair of runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball. Second basemen Will Smith brought them on a base knock to right field, tying the game at three.
Right hander Aiden Kuhle entered the game and struck out Michael Dolberry to end the inning.
The Steamers responded in the fifth by loading the bases with two outs. On a passed ball, Brown came home to score to retake the lead, 4-3. A strikeout ended the threat.
Like a heavyweight fight, the River Bandits had a counterpunch in the bottom half of the inning.
Back-to-back hits to open the frame put runners on the corners. After a strikeout, Pierson stepped to the plate and drilled a three run homer to give the River Bandits a 6-4 advantage.
Unable to score in the sixth, the Steamers came to the top of the seventh needing two runs to keep the game alive. Haney worked a leadoff walk. After a pop out, the River Bandits made a pitching change.
Ryan Insco was greeted by Haire to the tune of a single to center. Pernetti walked to laod the bases for Jacob Bisharat.
The Miles College catcher lined a ball mere centimeters above second baseman Will Smith’s glove and plated Haney. The deficit was cut in half.
Left fielder Ryan Kay followed up the single with a groundball that had double play potential but kicked off Sherwin’s glove. Both Haire and Pernetti came in to score, making it a 7-6 ballgame in favor of Edenton.
Steamers’ left hander Ben Coffman came in for the bottom half in an attempt to close it out. His first pitch hit Hussey to put a runner on. After a strikeout and a flyout, Coffman had to face Cherry.
The designated hitter skied one to center field, carrying over the fence and walking it off for the River Bandits. His home run locked up the 8-7 victory and gave Tarboro some breathing room in the standings.
Going into Friday night’s matchup between the two teams at Historic Hicks Field, the River Bandits will have a 2.5 game lead in the PCL East over the Steamers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm and gates open at 6:00pm.