Shifting into gear: Faith Christian blasts Northern Nash, eyes postseason
By PATRICK MASON
Monday, April 22, 2019
During the school year a student can expect to see the inside of a classroom on a Monday morning. Yet spring break allows for some fresh air, early first pitches, and even earlier swings in the cage.
The Faith Christian baseball team, ahead of its second game in the Golden Leaf baseball tournament, had a lively batting practice before the Patriots’ 10 a.m. start against Northern Nash at Fleming Stadium in Wilson.
It must have carried over to the game because FCS enjoyed an eruption of offense in a 15-0, five-inning victory over the Knights.
“It’s a little early, but everyone got up this morning and was on time,” said Patriots senior Chase Johnson, who had a team-high four RBIs. “We had a good round in the cage and then took care of business in the game.”
FCS (13-3) scored seven runs in each of the first two innings and led 15-0 after the third. The Patriots collected 12 hits, and also took advantage of six Northern Nash (2-16) errors in building its double-digit lead.
Most of the Patriots’ hits were singles, and they came in bunches. Just two of the 12 hits went for extra bases; Johnson hit a triple and Trysten Edwards added a double. The other 10 were singles, and that’s just what coach Ronnie Beddingfield wanted to see out of his team — solid contact.
“At this time of the year, for us to start getting that confidence and seeing some back-to-back-to-back hits, and knowing that we will be able to do that later on in the season is what it’s all about,” Beddingfield said.
The Patriots are on a five game winning streak, and have won each of those five games by at least five runs. In Saturday’s Golden Leaf opener, an 8-3 win over Freedom Christian Academy, the Patriots trailed until a six-run fourth inning put them in the lead for good.
They had 13 hits in that win, and as the back-to-back defending 2-A NCISAA state champions, the time for hitting is now if they aim to three-peat.
Just two weeks remain in the regular season, with the finale at home against Rocky Mount Academy on May 2. Beddingfield, a first-year coach, has seen enough of his team and learned enough about his players that he feels comfortable allowing them to lead at this point in the season.
“We’ve had that conversation where you don’t want to get to this time of the season and think about summertime. We still have jobs to do,” Beddingfield said. “And that’s something they understand. They have that experience, they know what to do. I’m just kind of along for the ride with them right now.”
For both teams, the chance to play each other was a unique experience. In the regular season the private and public schools largely stay seperate, but come tournament time anything goes.
Rocky Mount High and Rocky Mount Academy will play at noon on Tuesday, setting up another unique matchup.
“It’s definitely great to get a chance to play some of the local high schools teams,” Beddingfield said. “It’s something we don’t get a chance to do during the regular season so it’s good to get that opportunity and see how we stack up a little bit.
“This is supposed to be for fun, but obviously we came here to win all three of them.”
FCS is on track to do just that, with Game 3 coming on Tuesday against East Wake.
Other local results
C.B. Aycock 6, Rocky Mount Academy 5
Rocky Mount Academy (11-5) couldn’t hang onto a lead and lost its second consecutive game, both coming in Golden Leaf tournament play.
The Eagles struck first and scored four runs in the bottom first, and after a two-run inning by C.B. Aycock, RMA added another run in the bottom of the second for a 5-2 lead.
But that’s where the runs stopped for the Eagles, who allowed two runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings.
Ethan Davis had two of RMA’s five hits, and Isaiah Thomas hit a home run. The Eagles have one more game left in the tournament and will play Rocky Mount High at noon on Tuesday at Wilson Fike.
Cardinal Gibbons 3, Nash Central 0
Nash Central (14-7) dropped its third consecutive game, and second of the Golden Leaf tournament.
“We are in a funk for sure,” Bulldogs coach Willie Langley said.
The Bulldogs split a two-game series with Eastern Plains Conference rival North Johnston with a loss on Thursday, which began a stretch of two more losses.
Nash Central has scored three runs or fewer in each of the three losses, highlighting the lack of offense. Before this stretch, the Bulldogs scored at least four runs in each game since a March 16 loss to Greenville Rose.
The Bulldogs close out their tournament with a game against Northern Nash.
Rocky Mount High 8, Farmville Central 4
The Gryphons (16-5) won their fifth consecutive game, and have outscored opponents 34-11 during that stretch.
Rocky Mount High needed late-inning runs to come back from an early deficit, and got just that. Farmville Central led 4-0 after four innings, but a run in the fifth and a seven-run sixth powered the Gryphons to a win.
RMH will go for a perfect 3-0 record in the tournament when it plays its third game at noon on Tuesday against Rocky Mount Academy.