Holding the opponent to one hit in the inaugural game at a new stadium serves as a pretty nice ribbon cutter.
Rocky Mount High pitchers Jeremy Johnson and Cody Smith combined for a one-hitter in the first ever baseball game at the new Rocky Mount High School on Thursday, in the process pitching the Gryphons to an 8-0 victory against Tarboro.
“Our pitching staff, right now, is what we feel is the strength of our team,” Rocky Mount coach Kent Cox said. “What suits this team is to pitch and play defense, scratch and claw for some runs, and that’s exactly what we did (Thursday).”
Rocky Mount (2-2) scored six runs in the first two innings, which took a total of 55 minutes to complete.
Tarboro (0-2) committed four errors in the first inning, then walked five Gryphons in the second inning to fall behind, 6-0.
Vikings’ starter Travis Martin allowed six runs in 1 2⁄3 innings of work, but only one was earned.
“We didn’t come ready to play when we came here and got off the bus,” Tarboro coach Justin Smith said. “The intensity that we like to play with wasn’t there.
“When we made five errors in the first two innings and got down, 6-0, mentally our will to fight was kind of over.”
Johnson earned far more run support than he needed. Only two runners reached base in Johnson’s four innings on the mound and neither advanced past second base.
The senior left-hander finished with six strikeouts, keeping the Vikings off balance with a breaking ball that was sharp Thursday.
“I’ve been working on (the breaking ball) a lot in the offseason, throwing it for strikes and trying to throw it in any count,” Johnson said. “I was able to do a lot of that (Thursday).”
Johnson gave way after only 50 pitches to Smith, who struck out five hitters and did not allow a run in the final three innings.
Smith stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout on the final out to preserve the shutout.
Andy Morris led the way at the plate for Rocky Mount, reaching base in all four plate appearances. He finished 2-for-2 with two RBI, two runs and two walks.
Center fielder Trevor Hayworth went 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI for the Gryphons.
Will Dupree had the lone hit for the Vikings with a single to right field in the first inning.
“We’re going to continue to work because it hasn’t clicked yet,” Smith said. “... We haven’t been aggressive enough. We’re going up there and looking for the perfect pitch.”
Rocky Mount did not have an extra base hit Thursday, but the Gryphons drew six walks and struck out four times.
“At the high school level, there aren’t very many kids who can throw it for three straight strikes, so we want to swing at only good pitches,” Cox said. “We want them to work counts and get starters out of the game, and they did that (Thursday).”
Rocky Mount High 8
T 000 000 0 – 0 1 5
RMH 421 100 x – 8 8 1
WP: Jeremy Johnson (4IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 1BB, 6K); LP: Travis Martin (1.2IP, 6R, 1ER, 3H, 4BB, 1K).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com