The easy thing to do would have been to congratulate his players on an easy victory and prepare for the next day’s practice.
Rocky Mount Academy baseball coach Pat Smith isn’t about shortcuts.
If one were within earshot of the Eagles’ dugout after their 18-4 victory Wednesday evening against Raleigh St. David’s, that person might have been confused as to which team came away with the victory.
Smith wasn’t overly impressed with parts of the team’s performance, and he went down a laundry list of things needing improvement during the final stretch of conference games.
Everything from swinging at bad pitches to taking too big of a lead off first base were covered in his postgame remarks.
What worked against Raleigh St. David’s is one thing.
What might work against the state’s better teams is another.
“We try to make our guys play to what we are capable of and not down to some of the weaker teams we play,” Smith said. “When you start playing like your competition, it takes away from what we ought to be.”
Raleigh St. David’s was unimpressive on the mound, and Rocky Mount Academy took advantage of its lack of pitching with a pair of big innings.
The Eagles sent 10 batters to the plate in a five-run second inning and 15 batters saw action in an 11-run third inning that included seven hits.
Linwood Jones led Rocky Mount Academy with a 4-for-4 performance that included a pair of doubles.
“He’s having a great year,” Smith said of Jones. “He’s getting on base. We make things happen when he gets on base, and he is putting us on his shoulders the past couple of weeks since Reid Johnston got injured.”
Chandler Clontz added a pair of doubles and three RBI, and Tyson Jones added three RBI as well.
Big innings aside, there were some over-anxious swings by the Eagles and three defensive errors.
It was all Smith needed to grab his team’s attention during its second game after spring break.
“When we play against teams like Faith Christian, the little things matter the most, and that’s what we need to focus on,” Jones said.
The Eagles (10-1 EPIC) will have a chance to avenge a loss to Faith Christian next Tuesday.
The first meeting three weeks ago was filled with Rocky Mount Academy mistakes and serves as the team’s lone conference loss of the season.
Rocky Mount Academy knocked off Faith Christian last season with a state title series berth at stake.
For now, solidifying starting pitching, hitting the ball with more consistency and tidying up the small things Smith suggested all must come quickly for the Eagles.
“Easter vacations tend to ruin high school baseball,” Smith said. “Maybe we can get back into a groove and some semblance of playing better.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org