Published: Apr 25, 2012 12:14 PM
Modified: Apr 25, 2012 04:30 PM
East Chapel Hill senior Alex Moore had one pitch left to end up either a goat or the hero. He chose a curveball, and came out a hero.
With a full count and the bases loaded Friday at Wildcat Field, Moore struck out the final Riverside batter to preserve a 5-4 victory that kept the ’Cats in control of their own destiny in PAC-6 baseball.
"That was huge," East coach Phil Woodell said. "Unfortunately, we’ve put ourselves in a situation more than once this year where we’ve gotten ourselves into a hole and he’s gotten us out. He was big."
Moore, an all-state wide receiver for East Chapel Hill’s football team, modestly blamed himself for helping to create the crisis he solved.
“It was my fault for walking in a run in the first place,” he said.
Leaving centerfield to take the mound with one out and two on in the fifth, with the game tied at 3-3, Moore walked in a run before striking out the next two Pirates.
East re-tied the game at 4-4 on back-to-back hits by catcher Thomas Myslinski and second-baseman Henry Branson. The Wildcats went back ahead after rightfielder Bennett Byerley led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk and moved over to second on pinch-hitter Sam Towne’s out at first. Shortstop Jack Hankins, the next man up, brought Byerley home with a solid double into left.
Moore struggled with his curve ball in the top of the seventh, walking three to load the bases before ending the game with consecutive strikeouts.
"You’re so jazzed. You just have to focus, because you’re so pumped up," Moore said. "I don’t use many fastballs, so I really have to concentrate on getting a feel for the curve ball."
Myslinski played big on both sides of the plate, going 3-for-3 and driving in a run with his bat, and then repeatedly giving Moore a big target and refusing to let any pitches get by him.
Hankins ended up 1-2 with an RBI, while third-baseman Josh Baldwin went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Starting pitcher Aaron Bonertz batted 1-2 and Moore was 1-3.
With four conference games left this season, East Chapel Hill’s win over third-place Riverside (11-5, 5-3) improved the Wildcats’ record to 13-5 overall and 7-1 in the PAC-6, tied for the league lead with Durham Jordan (14-5, 7-1).
Jordan, beaten 21-11 at East Chapel Hill earlier this year, avenged that loss somewhat with a 9-0 decision last Tuesday at Davis Field, the Wildcats’ worst offensive showing of the season.
"It was a good win for us," Jordan coach Devy Bell said. "We usually have really tough games between the two of us – one run, two runs, three runs. These last couple of games, where they 10-runned us and we almost 10-runned them, that’s not our normal way of doing things. But we got a good pitching performance tonight."
Chris Lynch (3-0) struck out 10 and walked just three Wildcats in a masterful performance.
"We had no answer tonight for Lynch," Woodell said Tuesday. "You tip your hat to him. He pitched a really good game, and they picked up some good hits at the plate, and we didn’t."
Markus Koeneke and Tim Hampton led Jordan in batting by going 2-for-3 with an RBI each as Jordan racked up 10 hits. Elliott Bentley went just 1-for-4, but his lone hit was a 3-RBI triple.
Jordan, with games this week at home against Southern and at Hillside, plays at Riverside (11-5, 5-3) in the PAC-6 season finale on May 7.