Ashley, Hoggard both lose in tournament


The Hoggard Vikings Connor Autry (8) walks up to bat during the second day of the Spring Break Baseball Tournament hosted by Ashley High School. (Photo by Mike Spencer)


When asked what it would take to fix Ashley's fielding troubles, coach Brian Stewart suggested tryouts – and he was only half-kidding.

Stewart had reason to be frustrated. The Screaming Eagles made seven errors in a 13-3, 6-inning loss to Forest Park on Tuesday night in the Ashley Spring Break Baseball Tournament.

"Defense is part of playing the game, and you have to be aggressive," Stewart said. "The errors that we made were just waiting on balls and not going after them. I told the guys, ‘You have to make those plays or you're not going to play.' "

Ashley pitcher Pante Miliotis induced plenty of ground balls to the infield, but Ashley struggled to convert them to outs. The Eagles (7-3) made five errors in the first three innings, including three in a five-run third inning that broke the game open for Forest Park. Four of Forest Parks' runs that inning were unearned.

"We pitched well enough to win the game," Stewart said. "When Pante is pitching, you have to be anticipating every pitch, that every ground ball is coming to you and be aggressive."

Forest Park did plenty of work on its own, piling on six runs on four hits in the fifth inning to put the game out of reach. Ashley brought in Matt Davis in relief mid-inning, but Forest Park still scored two more runs off him.

With the loss, Ashley is yet again assured of not winning its own tournament. The Eagles have never won the championship.

"We've got to get better fielding," Stewart said. "If not, we'll have some tryouts and try and bump some JV kids up."

Forest Park will play Northwood for the championship at 7:30 p.m. today. Northwood beat Pinecrest 7-1 earlier Tuesday to advance.



Laney 4, Hoggard 1

Randy Shifflet threw a complete-game win, keeping Hoggard hitters off-balance with off-speed pitches and a collection of breaking balls.

"I didn't try to do too much," Shifflet said. "I just wanted to hit my spots."

Shifflet needed only 90 pitches and faced only 27 batters in seven innings.

"He was amazing today," Laney coach Aaron Livengood said. "We don't have a blow-away, strikeout guy but we've got a lot of guys who can locate."

The Laney offense did just enough to help Shifflet out, but Hoggard (8-2) helped the Bucs (8-3) along. Laney scored three runs in the fourth inning, but four consecutive walks by Hoggard pitchers brought in two of them. Laney's Will Sharp had RBI hits in the fourth and fifth innings.

"He'd been struggling," Livengood said of Sharp. "We'd talked about it. He's been trying to to backside, and that's where his double came from."

The loss was a frustrating one for the Vikings.

"That was just bad," Hoggard coach Jeep St. Ledger said of the pitching wildness, adding that he was disappointed in the way that Hoggard allowed early strikeouts at the plate and walks on the mound to snowball.

"The thing for me is our kids' body language. There's some catastrophic things going on around us, and none of them are striking out at a baseball game."

 

New Hanover 6, Topsail 5

Down 5-3 entering the seventh inning, things didn't look too promising for the Wildcats, but clutch two-out hitting from Burke Estes and Steven Tinsley lead to a walkoff victory.

"We're not hitting, but this bunch will play seven innings," Wildcats coach Richard Foy said. "They'll play the whole game, and every once in a while when you play the whole game something like that will happen."

The Wildcats rally began with a walk to Collin Thacker and a single by Ward Coleman. After a fly out and another walk, the Wildcats had the bases loaded. Simmons grounded into a fielder's choice to score Thacker, and Estes delivered with an RBI single to tie the game.

Tinsley, who was 0-for-1 with two walks, smacked a single into left center on a full count to score Thomas Simmons from third and win the game.

"I was looking fastball, and he threw it," Tinsley said.

"It was good to come back with a win."