First Posted: 1/15/2009
Dennis Pillion, Staff writer
LUMBERTON - The Purnell Swett baseball team is playing its best baseball of the season, and the Rams continued their hot streak by beating South Robeson 11-2 Saturday in the Robeson County Slugfest opener.
The Rams jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the top of the second inning, and the Mustangs, led by former Purnell Swett coach Jerome Hunt, couldn't recover.
The Rams recorded six runs in the top of the first inning, but did not have to resort to long hits to do it.
“We put the ball in play, bunted a little bit, and made them make plays in the field,” Purnell Swett coach William Deese said. “That set the tone for the game.”
The Rams got the offense started after a pitch from South Robeson's Ryan Harris just grazed Purnell Swett's leadoff man Justin Jacobs.
Rams pitcher Austin Eubanks then bunted down the left side of the infield. The Mustangs fielded the ball, but the throw sailed over the head of first baseman Brandon Oxendine. Jacobs came around to score and Eubanks ended up at third base.
Dustin Eubanks then tested the Mustang defense again with a squeeze bunt that scored his brother from third base and got him safely to first.
“This is a game of catch and throw,” Hunt said. “Until we learn to catch and throw and make routine plays, we're going to give teams a bunch of runs on a few hits.”
A Thorne Locklear single and another defensive error by South Robeson loaded the bases with nobody out. Harris then walked Tim Stultz on a close 3-2 pitch to score another run for the Rams.
Matt Locklear failed to connect on another attempted squeeze bunt, and Thorne Locklear was tagged out easily at home plate. Matt Locklear made up for his blunder with a two-out double to the left field corner that scored two more runs.
Josh Bowen connected on an RBI single that gave Purnell Swett a 6-0 lead after one inning.
From there, Austin Eubanks took over, pitching a complete game and allowing only two runs in the third inning. Eubanks' record is now 3-1.
“For being a sophomore, (Eubanks) threw a great game,” Deese said.
Trailing 7-0 in the second inning, the Mustangs moved Oxendine to the mound to change things up. Oxendine kept Rams hitters off-balance enough to slow down the offense, although two runners who were already on base came around to score on a single by Andrew Goins.
“He has a weird delivery,” Austin Eubanks said. “We couldn't find the release point on it and everybody got too far out in front.”
Eubanks said the fact that they were playing their old coach gave the team extra motivation to do well.
“This was a big win for us,” Eubanks said. “We wanted to end it after five innings, but we got weak there after the fourth.”