There’s a baseball phrase that refers to a pitching gem as “crafting a no-hitter,” and while Tuesday night’s combined no-hitter fell short of being a gem, it was enough for Tarboro’s River Bandits to claim a 4-1 exhibition win over the GameTime Prospects in a nine-inning game at Municipal Stadium.
GameTime is the parent team of the Bandits.
Tarboro used seven pitchers in the game, combining for 15 strikeouts, including one stretch of seven in a row. The downside for the staff was six walks and one hit batter.
Three of those walks and the hit batsman happened in the second and led to the Prospects lone run, as starter Dylan Wheeler (Western Carolina) struggled to survive the inning.
Wheeler opened the second by hitting Michael Groves (UNC-Asheville) before walking Coby Davis. A wild pitch to Zack Joyner advanced the runners to second and third and Groves scored on an unassisted ground out to first by Dawson Smith to end the inning.
The River Bandits drew even in their half of the inning when the middle of the order generated some offense.
First baseman Kasey Caras (Messiah) opened with a walk issued by starter Dylan Wheeler (Western Carolina), then advanced to third when the third baseman booted a sharply hit ground ball by Rufus Hurdle (Ferrum State) that rolled into shallow left.
A walk to Brantley Cutler (Maryland-Eastern Shore) loaded the bases with one out, setting the stage for an RBI-producing sacrifice fly to center by Matthew Coker (Pasco Hernandez) that tied the game.
Hurdle and Cutler were stranded when Wheeler struck out Jarod Bingaman (Messiah) to end the inning with the score tied at 1-1.
The River Bandits added a run in the third when third baseman Carter Smith (Florida State) and Billy Davis (Messiah) both walked, then advanced to second and third on a passed ball.
Smith scored when DH Trevon Smith (Glenville) grounded out unassisted to first.
Leading 2-1, the River Bandits started giving the pitching staff work following Wheeler and Eric Brady’s (Pasco Hernandez) time on the mount over the first five innings.
Tarboro High grad Caleb Whitley (Middle Atlantic Christian) came on in the fifth and retired the side in order, followed by Alex Crosby (N.C. Wesleyan) in the sixth, who struck out three of the four batters he faced with the fourth reaching on a missed fly ball in left.
Taite Hensley (Centralia, Wash.) came on in the seventh and got a pair of strikeouts, followed by Troy Brits (Central Florida) in the eighth and Jordan Leggett (Pitt CC) in the ninth.
Brits turned in a strong fielding play to open his outing, firing a shot to first on a grounder for the first out, then grabbing a bunt and throwing out Kaden Brown (Francis Marion) with an underhanded toss for the second. In-between, he struck out Zack Joyner.
Leggett had a rough outing, opening with back-to-back walks before striking out two of the next three batters he faced to wrap up the win.
Tarboro put the game away in the eighth, adding a pair of unearned runs with two outs.
First, Matthew Mangum (Glenville State) walked and stole second. Mangum was followed by Coker, who hit a fly ball to center that was dropped, allowing Mangum to come around and score.
Coker, who had advanced to second on the error, scored when Grant Jarman (UNC-Greensboro) singled up the middle to make it 4-1.
UPCOMING GAMES — After a league doubleheader vs. Wake Forest at Heritage High School on Wednesday, the River Bandits face three straight nine-inning non-league games at Municipal Stadium, They face the Carolina Coyotes on Friday and the Catawba Valley All-Stars on Saturday and Sunday in a pair of 7 p.m. starts.
ROSTER MOVES — The River Bandits made some roster moves to help address some injury concerns. Joining the team before the July 4 weekend was left-handed pitcher Alex Jarrell (Andrews College) of South Charleston, WV., right-handed pitcher Troy Britts (Central Florida), left-handed pitcher Derrick Carter (NC Wesleyan), right-handed pitcher Colt Webb (Charleston) right-hander Eric Miles (Presbyterian), and catcher/third baseman Carter Smith (Florida State).