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Fair weather finally arrives for start of Trimble's baseball season

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By Dave Taylor

Local baseball teams finally beat the weather odds and got in some valuable field time last week. Carroll County’s Panthers motored Thursday to Bedford and finally battled with Trimble County in a game that was postponed from March 26, due to weather. The contest was an exciting match-up with the two teams trading the lead back and forth as the innings progressed.

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Trimble’s defense held the Panthers to three up and three down in the top half of the first inning. The Raiders got their offense clicking right out of the box in its half of the inning with back-to-back singles by Reece Poe and Evan Kunkel. The next hitter, Derek Harris, was struck by a pitch, which loaded the bases with nobody out. Logan Rogers hit a grounder to third base leading to a double play with force-outs at third and second. Poe sprinted for home at the crack of the bat to score Trimble’s first run. Carroll’s starting pitcher Craig Beach was able to get out of the inning with no more damage.

The Panthers loaded the bases in the top of the second and scored when Trimble hurler Poe struck hitter Chris Perkinson to force a run. Trimble failed to score in its half of the inning and after two innings the scored was knotted at 1-1.

Eli Yocum opened the third inning with a single to center field followed by an RBI double by Dane Lacefield deep to center field, giving the Panthers a 2-1 advantage. Poe struck out the next two Panther hitters and the Raiders threw out Garrett Sanders on a grounder to third base.

Poe rapped his second single of the game to open the Raider half of the third, and advanced to second base on a bad throw. Kunkel popped out to right field, but Poe tagged and advanced to third base. Harris walked and then stole second base, putting runners in scoring position at second and third. Rogers was thrown out on a grounder to second base but Poe again scored from third to tie the game and Harris advanced to third. Duncan Ralston followed with a RBI single to center field, scoring Harris. After three innings of play, Trimble led 3-2.

Carroll battled back to tie the score in the top of the fourth. Chris Perkinson led off with a single to center field and later scored on a double by David Duncan. Relief pitcher Jake Robertson shut down the Raiders 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth leaving the score tied at 3-3.

Poe struck out two Panthers and forced a third to pop up to the pitcher in the top of the fifth. As the leadoff hitter in the Raider half of the inning, Poe drew a walk and scored for the third time in the game on a one-out single to right field by Harris. Robertson struck out the next two batters and at the end of five it was Trimble 4, Carroll 3.

Neither team scored in the sixth inning. Seventh inning leadoff Panther Lacefield reached based on a throwing error by Trimble and advanced to second. He reached third on a wild pitch and Carroll had the tying run in scoring position with nobody out. Robertson grounded out to the pitcher, forcing Lacefield home. The next two Carroll hitters hit pop flies bringing their half of the inning to an abrupt close.

Trimble’s Seth Brewer drew a walk from Carroll reliever Glauber to open the bottom half of the inning. Ryan Goody was sent in as a substitute runner for Brewer. Goody stole second then advanced to third base on a sacrifice grounder by Poe. Kunkel came to bat and in short order Goody scored the winning run on a passed ball.

“It was an exciting game. You couldn’t ask for much more,” Trimble coach Frank Ragland said. “It goes down to the bottom of the seventh. I would have liked it to have ended after the top half of the seventh, but I like how after we gave up the lead we went on and got out of the inning. We came back and did what we had to do in the bottom half. We got a runner on (base) and we were able to get the runner to advance and we were able to score on a passed ball. We put ourselves in a position to win. They helped us a little bit with a couple of passed balls.”

“There’s some positives, there’s some negatives and some things to work on,” Carroll coach Kevin Goins said following the loss. “In a short period of time we’ve got to fix it but I’m happy with where we are.”

Both coaches cited pitching as a factor in the game. Trimble senior Reece Poe went the distance on the mound and drew praise from both coaches. Poe had six strikeouts, gave up a walk and hit four Carroll batters.

“I thought Reece Poe threw just a heck of a game. I think he only gave up two earned runs,” Ragland said.

Carroll’s pitchers “let too many guys on base and it’s tough to come outside,” Coach Goins said. “Pitchers are going to be ahead of hitters right now. I give Reece Poe a lot of credit to go seven innings on a cold battle but we had opportunities and didn’t cash in.”

Goins said starter Beach and first reliever Robertson “both got some varsity innings last year – not a whole lot. John Glauber was really getting his first true varsity experience tonight so those guys got to live in the shadows last year behind Seth [Hicks] and behind Evan [McMahan] and now they kind of look like there’s no big dogs to show us the way. They just need innings. They need experience. By District time they’re the guys we’re going to have to lean on so we’ll have our ups and downs leading up to that but we’re going to have to really grow up as the year goes.”

In three innings of work, Beach had a strikeout, two walks and hit one batter. Robertson threw three strikeouts and a walk in three innings of hurling. Glauber gave up a walk and drew the loss.

“Craig’s got to develop a secondary pitch,” Goins added. “Jake’s got to realize, ‘hey, I don’t have to go 3-2 on everybody. When I threw it over the plate they didn’t hit me so I don’t need to waste pitches.’ If he hadn’t been around 50 pitches he’d have still been out there. I told him in May I’m going to still be riding you, keep you out there.”

Carroll scored four runs on five hits. Trimble batters produced five runs on five hits.

“We hit the ball fairly decent when we had to for early in the year and made some decent defensive plays when we had to,” Ragland said. “I’m not disappointed. Two games into the season and we’re .500, you beat your cross county rival and it does feel good.”

Trimble had opened the season the night before with a 10-7 loss at the hands of Hanover’s Southwestern Rebels.

Both coaches expressed their joy at finally getting a break in the weather to get back on the field.

“It’s frustrating that you never could start but it’s a little bit less frustrating that nobody else was starting either,” Ragland said. “This is probably the sixth time that we’ve been on the field in the last four weeks. The opening day of the season, March 19, we didn’t have a game scheduled. The only teams in this area that’s gotten to play in the last three weeks played that day. I mowed our infield grass on the 19th because we were supposed to begin the next night. Twenty-four hours later I was shoveling snow. I’ve never had that happen before! From that point on it’s been a three week weather disaster--snow on top of rain on top of snow on top of tornadoes and thunderstorms. We finally got two in. Hopefully we can play our Class A next week.”

“Winter-slash-spring has not been kind to the baseball community,” said Goins. “We got to pick up a game 13 days ago and been stuck inside since then so it’s just a blessing to be able to get out on the field and see some guys compete again.”