SMITHFIELD — One of the hardest things to do is to play just as effectively as you had 24 hours earlier.
And when you’re coming off a 24-0, five-inning blowout victory, getting your team motivated is quite a chore.
That’s what Johnston County American Legion Post 71 manager Stephen Nordan faced Sunday night as he prepared his Sabres squad for the middle game of its three-game series with North Chatham Post 759.
“Last night is past,” Nordan said in pregame remarks to his team. “ You need to forget it. None of those runs or hits will carry over to tonight. You need to be ready to take it to these guys.”
It took four innings for that message to get through, but once it did, Post 71 rolled to a 10-0, seven-inning victory to improve to 2-0 in the Area I conference play and 6-4 overall.
The Sabres, who pounded put 23 hits against North Chatham on Saturday evening, were stymied by starting hurler Chad Fisher over the first three innings. They managed just two hits.
Both of those came in the first inning as Post 71 took a 1-0 lead on singles by Will Raynor and Matthew Parrish, aided by a throwing error by Fisher.
“The guy on the mound (Fisher) was good,” Nordan said. “We couldn’t do anything with him for a while – we just tried to get his pitch count up, and hope to get to him and their (Post 759’s) bullpen late and hope to try and take advantage of their mistakes.”
Things did not improve in the fourth, despite plating a pair of runs, courtesy of a fielding error, followed by Justin Carroll’s double.
Both those runs came in on a fielder’s choice and aggressive base running, for a 3-0 lead.
But the Sabres were still in la-la land, and Nordan knew they needed a wake-up call.
“We had no intensity, we were complacent,” Nordan said. “That’s not our style of baseball. We want to play a high energy, intensive style of baseball.
“It’s hard to get them up, after you had 24 runs on 22 hits the night before – but in our conference, you need to win every game, every series if you want to make the payoffs.”
That intensity began to arrive in the fifth inning. Raynor, Parrish and Ben Youngblood got hits, producing a run and igniting the Sabres’ juices.
Post 71 followed the fifth with three-run, three-hit rallies in the sixth and seventh to finish business, supporting the three-hit performance of pitcher Lane Johnson.
Johnson fanned six batters and allowed only one walk while hitting one.
He did not allow a runner past second, retiring 17 of the final 20 batters he faced.
Raynor led the Sabres at the plate with a 4-for-5 night, while Parrish was 3-for-4 and Carroll 2-for-2 while being hit and drawing a walk.
The Sabres continue the regular season schedule with a three-game divisional series against Apex this weekend.