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After slow start, Firebirds hope comeback win could be a spark

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AJ Jones, left, is shown in a game in 2018. Southern Nash won its second game of the season on Tuesday with a come-from-behind win over Wilson Fike, a 3-A power. The win snapped a six-game losing streak.

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Southern Nash’s 14-0 loss on Monday to Wilson Fike was pretty much in line with how the season had gone up to that point.

The Firebirds, 1-6 after the loss, won their first game of the season against Smithfield-Selma, 9-2, but lost the next six, including one to Roanoke Rapids that was a vacated victory because of a pitcher that was used on not enough days rest.

Coach Todd Brewer, who was out sick during that game, self-reported the infraction and turned it into another loss.

With Big East play starting up, Brewer preached that the season was in effect starting over; that optimism didn’t carry over to the 14-run drubbing from conference favorite Wilson Fike on Monday. And, after that loss, there came a long postgame talk.

“It was kind of a message, where we’re at the point where you’ve got to make the plays,” Brewer said on Wednesday afternoon. “We just said, ‘It’s time to step up and make plays, give ourselves a chance to win. We’ve been doing this long enough.”

Seven games in, the Firebirds were already at that point.

That’s what made Tuesday’s 6-5 come-from-behind win over Wilson Fike to salvage a split of the two-game series so important.

It gave the Firebirds (2-6, 1-1) their second win and handed the Demons (7-1, 1-1) their first loss.

“We’ve been telling them all year, we can play with anybody. To beat them, they were undefeated, top 10 in 3-A, to hand them their first loss, in conference, that’s huge,” Brewer said. “Hopefully we can build on it. We’re hoping to carry that confidence and maybe turn it into a few more wins.”

Early on in the game, it looked like the same story as Monday. Fike took a 3-0 lead after one inning, but the Firebirds tied it at five heading into the final innings.

In that bottom of the seventh, the Demons got the first two outs, but Matthew Horrigan reached on an error, then Jason Montague singled.

A.J. Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Luke Edwards hit a single on his first pitch swinging to bring home the winning run.

“The guys came out motivated. They easily could have packed it in. It was 3-0 in the first inning after we dropped a fly ball to give them the lead. It could have snowballed on them. But they showed something.”

The Firebirds will look to turn the Big East victory into a two-game winning streak against South Garner on Thursday. They have one more non-conference game against Smithfield Selma next Monday, then start a two-game series with Wilson Hunt on Tuesday.

Upcoming Big East games

Rocky Mount High (7-2, 1-0), which beat Franklinton (2-4, 0-1) on Tuesday, 9-0, will wrap up its series with the Red Rams on Friday, then start its series with Wilson Fike next Tuesday.

Northern Nash (2-4, 0-1), which had its game against Wilson Hunt (6-0, 1-0) rained out on Wednesday, will make up the game Thursday in Wilson.

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