HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – The Holly Springs Salamanders saw their recent win streak end with a 7-2 loss to the Edenton Steamers at the North Main Athletic Complex on Tuesday.
Starter Mike Bittel (2-1, 6 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 7 SO) earned the win for the Steamers (7-4, 27-11), while Holly Springs starter Chris Lanham was credited for the loss (2-3, 4 IP, 3 R, 5H, 3 SO).
Led by Zach Cerbo (2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI) and Devin Wenzel (2-4, 1 R), the Salamanders (8-4, 20-20) got eight hits on the night, but stranded seven runners – unable to connect at the right time to score any more runs.
Two homers from Chance Shepard (4-4, 2 R, 3 RBI), a junior from N.C. State, and one from Tony Rosselli (1-5, 2 R, 1 RBI) helped power the Edenton offense with 10 hits.
After winning three straight and five of their last six games before the 2015 CPL All-Star Weekend, the Salamanders’ ability to score apparently disappeared after taking an early 2-0 lead.
“It’s tough to get back, especially with such a long season; it’s tough to get back into the groove of things,” Salamanders coach Andrew Ciencin said.
“I told them not to pick up a baseball, so I’m sure it was the first time they kinda picked it up and got ready to go again. That’s fine, it’s summer. Edenton’s a really good team.”
Catcher Zach Cerbo hit his first home run of the season and put the Salamanders ahead when he sent a 2-2 pitch over the fence, just inside the left foul pole, and brought Wenzel in from second base.
The Steamers ended Lanham’s three-inning scoreless stretch with two consecutive home runs that brought in three runs and gave Edenton its first lead of the game.
With two out, the right-hander got the next batter to ground out, and Holly Springs looked to regain the lead in its half of the inning.
The Salamanders threatened, but left runners on base over the next three innings while Edenton extended its lead to 4-2 in the top of the sixth.
Holly Springs failed to bring in more runs while its pitching struggled as a total of six hurlers came into the game throughout.
“You try to get guys some work,” Ciencin continued.
“You’re tryin’ to do some matchups. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Obviously, it didn’t tonight.”
With Chris Williams (1/3 IP, 2 R, 2 H) on the mound, Edenton loaded the bases in the top of the eighth and added another two runs.
From the right-handed sidearm of Williams, Ciencin then went to the left-handed sidearm of Logan Sparkman (2/3 IP, 1 H) to try to get out of the inning with the bases still loaded and only one out.
Sparkman did just that as the Salamanders minimized the damage, but still trailed by four heading into the final inning.
Another home run from Edenton in top of the ninth made the thought of Holly Springs staging one its late-inning comebacks a very unlikely possibility.
They confirmed it by going down in order to end the game.
“I thought our offense didn’t really have an approach,” Ciencin concluded.
“Tryin’ to do too much. That’s just somethin’ you gotta get back into the groove. It’s baseball. You’re gonna have nights like this. They just gotta be ready to go tomorrow.”