First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE - The Lumberton baseball team has made a habit of using deception when it's on the base paths.
In Saturday's 11-2 win over South Robeson in the first round of the Robeson County Slugfest, the Pirates got a bit sneaky on defense as well.
With Mustangs runners on first and second base with no outs, Lumberton starter John Thompson turned and appeared to make a pick-off throw to second base. Lumberton shortstop Seth Wagner and center fielder William Blanks each dove as if the throw had gone into the outfield.
South Robeson's Ryan Harris - thinking the throw had gone awry - attempted to run to third, only to be easily caught and tagged by Thompson, who had the ball all along.
It turned out to be that kind of day for both teams. Lumberton did everything right, while the Mustangs (9-4) suffered through frustration after frustration.
The trick proved fruitful as the next South Robeson batter, James Lewis, hit a single to left field that would have scored a run. Instead, the Pirates got out of the inning with their 6-2 lead intact.
“That's something that we work on,” Thompson said. “They were probably going to get ahead that inning, that was probably going to be their big inning, so we had to do something to stop them.”
The Mustangs' frustrations began long before the Pirates' trickery. In the first inning, Lumberton went ahead on a rally that likely should've been cut short.
Pirates designated hitter Garrett Mayers hit a pop-up just past second base in the inning with runners on first and third. One of the umpires appeared to signal an out, invoking the infield-fly rule. The ball dropped, however, and the umpires, after a discussion, allowed each runner to safely stay on base.
The Pirates went on to score three runs in the inning, including two off a single from Garrick Britt.
Mustangs coach Jerome Hunt came out to the argue the call, but to no avail. He was restricted to the dugout after a heated exchange.
“(The umpire) said our shortstop didn't make an effort on the ball,” Hunt said. “But once the call is made, the call is made. You can't change it.
“They know they blew the call. When they do stuff like that, you can pretty much say what you want to them, so I pushed the limit there for a little bit.”
Russel Branch led the Pirates at the plate, with two doubles and two RBI. Britt drove in three runs on two singles.
“I really wasn't pleased with the way our kids played,” Pirates coach Paul Hodges said. “We got lucky that some calls went our way. If they didn't go our way, it's a different ball game. We didn't capitalize on some good opportunities.”
Thompson (5-0) picked up the win, while Harris was tagged with the loss. Tyler Lewis threw two scoreless innings for the Pirates and Sidney Britt came in and shut the door in the seventh.
Lumberton (12-5) moves on play Purnell Swett in the semifinals on Monday at 7 p.m.