HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – The Holly Springs Salamanders put two separate rallies together and eventually earned a 10-6 decision over the Wilson Tobs at the North Main Athletic Complex on Wednesday.
The Salamanders (14-9, 26-25) extended their streak to four in a row, and claimed their sixth victory in their last eight games played.
It’s been a successful stretch after losing four in succession.
“I think they really bought into the one-game mentality,” Salamanders coach Andrew Ciencin said.
“Not lookin’ forward, not lookin’ past. Takin’ it one game at a time. I think they’re doin’ a really good job of it.”
Brett Daniels (2-4, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 SO) earned the win for Holly Springs, while Greg Mason absorbed the loss for the Tobs (10-12, 20-29).
Joey Roach kept a hot bat going for the Salamanders for the second game in a row, finishing 3-for-3 while driving in Salamanders runs in the first and eighth innings.
Following Roach with two RBIs apiece were Collin Woody (1-4, 2 R) and Zach Cerbo (3-5), while Brian Miller (2-4, 3 R), Xyruse Martinez (1-3), and Robbie Thorburn (1-4, 1 R) each added one apiece.
“It was a roller coaster of a game today, but we came out on top,” Roach said.
“We got the clutch hit and Woody came in, made it interesting, but got the door closed and had a good game.”
Both teams finished with 14 hits apiece, but early on it looked as though Holly Springs would run away with it.
Roach’s grounder between first and second brought Miller in all the way from second and put Holly Springs ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
The Salamanders created major problems for Wilson starter Mason Keen in the second, loading the bases with none out.
However, the rising sophomore at East Carolina managed to work the Holly Springs batters into a fielder’s choice at home and a pop-up to get two quick outs before the Salamanders added another run on a wild pitch from the right-hander.
Holly Springs center fielder Shaq Rolle (0-2, 1 R) tried to squeeze in behind Josh McLain (2-4, 2 R) who safely crossed the plate.
However, Wilson catcher Cole Bedford finally got a hold of the passed ball and threw it to Keen in time as Rolle dove head first towards home plate, and ended the inning with the Salamanders ahead 2-0.
While the Tobs threatened to score during the early innings, the Salamanders’ exceptional fielding kept them off the board.
Even while stranding numerous runners in each inning, a double from Miller in the bottom of the fourth scored McLain to extend the Holly Springs lead to three runs.
With only one out, the Salamanders blew the game open as Woody singled and drove in Rolle and Miller to push the Salamanders lead to 5-0.
While Miller managed to beat Bedford’s tag attempt at home, the play was close enough for Wilson coach Bryan Gaines to contest the call, but to no avail.
Gaines made a pitching change soon after, as left-hander Butch Baird (3 2/3 IP, 2 H) came in to try to end the inning and the Holly Springs rally.
Roach got on base for the third time in the game and loaded the bases as Martinez stepped up to the plate.
“Just tryin’ to slow it down a bit, not be too aggressive,” Roach said of his approach at the plate that’s helped him over the past few games.
“See a pitch that you can hit and just work with what the pitchers gives you.”
Martinez’s grounder scored Woody on a fielder’s choice, and the Salamanders led 6-0.
Loading the bases in the top of the fifth, the Tobs finally got on the board and cut the Holly Springs lead to five.
Wilson kept chipping away at Lanham’s exceptional stand on the mound and managed to score another run one inning later.
Ciencin then decided to let the bullpen take over and Lanham walked off the mound after five and two-thirds innings of work possessing a 6-2 lead, even while allowing nine hits.
The Tobs bats then exploded with Chris Williams on the mound for the Salamanders as two consecutive hits brought in three runs and the Holly Springs advantage was suddenly cut down to one run.
Brett Daniels came in to pitch for the Salamanders to start the top of the seventh and retired the Tobs batters quickly.
Baird kept the Holly Springs batters in check through the seventh inning while Wilson threatened to take the lead with runners on second and third base in the top of the eighth.
The Salamanders were up to the task and effective infield defensive play kept both teams tied 6-6 heading into the bottom of the inning.
Thorburn’s single made the difference as he drove in Miller and put the Salamanders ahead 7-6.
A subsequent walk to Woody warranted another pitching change for Wilson as Holly Springs had two men on base with one out.
Quinn Atwood helped the Salamanders load the bases as he hit Logan Porter, the first batter he faced.
Roach then hit a sac fly to center and scored Thorburn to put the Salamanders further ahead at 8-6.
Cerbo’s double to center finished off the game’s scoring and brought Woody and Porter across the plate with Holly Springs ahead for good.
Woody stepped onto the mound in the top of the ninth and the Salamanders held the Tobs scoreless to secure the 10-6 win.
With the end of the second half of the regular season drawing near, Holly Springs finds itself in contention for a CPL playoff spot, but it’s still not something Ciencin has addressed directly with his team.
“No, I honestly haven’t,” Ciencin said when asked.
“Everyone’s bought into that one-game mentality and that’s what we’re tryin’ to focus on. Showin’ up at the ballpark every night and bein’ ready to go. I think that’s what they’ve been doin’, and that’s why we’ve had that success of late.”