CPL: HiToms drop home opener to Copperheads
A recurring theme in 2012 is already haunting the HiToms in 2013. One-run losses.
In its first two Coastal Plain League outings, the Tommies have lost by an 8-7 score. The latest coming in Wednesday’s home opener against Asheboro, where they fell behind 6-0 and could not recover. It is bringing back unwelcome memories from a year ago, when 12 of their 30 losses came by a single run.
When HiToms Legend Zach Brown decided to make his return and coach the team, his vision was to bring back the winning tradition that he helped to start as a player. He was unfazed by a second straight loss to begin the year, believing the talent they have now mixed with players expected to make their debuts in coming weeks, will win a lot of games.
“It is early and we probably have some guys playing with a little extra emotion,” said Brown. “The game is moving fast for them and we just have to get it slowed down. They will be all right and I am not really worried about it.”
Their biggest problem right now is getting off to a good start. They have spotted the opposition early leads, leaving them to play catch up the rest of the night. Against rival Asheboro, a sloppy first three innings allowed for a 6-0 Copperheads advantage.
In the first inning, a double steal put runners at second and third with one out. Bobby Ison scored the game’s first run moments later on a passed ball.
The Copperheads added three more in the second. The first came when Levi Grassley took off for second with teammate Kenny Jackson standing on third. The throw from catcher Ryan Cooper went through to second for the out, but the play allowed Jackson to scramble home. Ison and Luke Tendler drove in one each on singles, raising the score to 4-0.
A two-spot in the sixth dug the hole deeper, while the Asheboro defense came up with several spectacular plays to assist pitcher Taylor Bratton.
The HiToms were able to break their silence in the fifth to make it a game again. Robbie Street doubled of the wall to open the inning. Reaching third on a wild pitch, he scurried home on Weston Jackson’s grounder to second.
Asheboro gave back some of the miscues the Tommies had given them earlier in the night. A pair of errors contributed to two runs that cut the margin in half. Cameron Cecil drove a single to the outfield as Andrew Cox broke away from second base. He was waved around third and the throw came to the plate. Cox dove to the left side of catcher Matthew Reistetter, reaching safely to make it 6-4.
Easing ahead by four in the eighth, the Copperheads picked up some valuable insurance and left Thomasville with more work to do.
They got one back on a swing of the bat by Cecil. His deep liner to right caused Tendler to crash into the wall. Many thought he had completed the catch, but Cecil rounded all the bases to be sure. Once attended to by medical staff and getting up on his own power, the umpire ruled it to be an inside-the-park home run. An RBI single from Street and RBI groundout by Jay Lizanek suddenly made it a one-run game.
Reliever Brett Schreiber was able to end the rally there, preserving the win for the Copperheads.
“They showed a lot of fight in that comeback and that is what you want,” said Brown. “We are going to be fine and I am not too concerned right now.”
Kyle Brandenburg, Cecil and Street all had two hits.