Tarboro’s River Bandits (10-3) got hitting when they needed it and pitching when it counted the most, sweeping the Carolina Thunder, 18-7 and 4-1, Wednesday night at Municipal Stadium.
The doubleheader was the last game for the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League’s round-robin pre-league play.
After hitting the road for a nine-inning game against the Wilson Tobs on Friday, the River Bandits begin league play with a 3 p.m. doubleheader against the defending league champion Fuquay-Varina Twins.
Saturday’s game also marks the first time the River Bandits will be allowed to sell tickets for the game. Fans must go to the team website — tarbororiverbandits.com — and follow the ticket pull-down to purchase and print tickets for the game. No tickets will be sold at the gate.
In the first game, the Thunder (4-6) jumped to a quick, 3-0 lead before the Bandits sent 13 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, putting together a pair of infield singles, a pair of doubles and a triple to right by Jarod Bingaman (Messiah) to break into an 8-3 lead.
And while the Thunder managed to get three runs back in the second, Tarboro kept putting the ball in playing and getting a run back here and there.
In the third, the Bandiits added two more runs when Kasey Caras (Messiah) opened the inning with a single to right, took second on a wild pitch and scored during a rundown. Shea Ward (Pitt) got to third on the rundown, then scored when Zack Whitacre (Potomac) hit into fielder’s choice.
In the fourth, Tarboro scored three runs with two outs as four consecutive batters reached base.
Gage Riddick (Eastern Mennonite), who had a three RBI double in the first inning, doubled to right center to start the rally.
Patrick Rogan (Paul Camp) reached with the first baseman booted a ground ball and Rufus Hurdle (Paul Camp) walked. Rogan stole third and Hurdle took second on a wild pitch before a Caras single to right made the score 14-7.
The top of the order delivered once again in the fifth for Tarboro, as six River Bandits went to the plate and three runs scored to activate the 10-run rule.
Bingaman singled to short, followed by a walk to Fox. Whitacre singled to left, driving in two runs. Phillip Boykin (Louisville) walked, followed by a fielder’s choice to short by Jake Brown (Pfeiffer) and a double to right by Riddick to cap the scoring at 18-7.
Tarboro got good pitching efforts from Zach Woolard (NC Wesleyan), Matthew Coker (Pasco Hernandez) in the fourth and Eric Brady (Pasco Hernandez) in the fifth.
In the second game, the Thunder took a 1-0 lead in the first, but Tarboro took the lead for keeps in the second when Dylan Benton (Central Connecticut) walked and took second on a passed ball before Caleb Fluno (Lenoir-Rhyne) hit a towering home run to left that drew “oohs” from the crowd as soon as the ball left the bat.
Tarboro put the game away in the sixth, with Whitacre tripling to center and scoring on a Tre’von Smith (Glenville State) to right. Smith then scored on a bases-load walk to Coker.