SMITHFIELD — Apex’s American Legion Post 124 baseball team brought its batting shoes to Spartan Field Wednesday night for its Area I Western Division battle with Johnston County Post 71.
But so did the Sabres’ Matthew Parrish, who produced five RBIs and lifted Post 71 to a weather-shortened, 10- 2 victory and a sweep of the three-game series. The game was halted with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning due to lightning. Parrish made his presence felt in the bottom half of the first inning, slamming a 2-2 pitch from Austin Debevic over the left field fence for a 3-run homer.
“Just a 2-2 fastball, and I reacted to it,” Parrish said. “It was inside - I was trying to see the ball deep and just reacted to it.”
That shot wiped out an early 2-0 lead for Post 124 - but Parrish wasn’t through.
With runners on second and third to open the fourth inning, Parrish again came through with a two-run single to left, pushing the Sabres’ advantage to 6-2.
“It was kind of the same thing,” Parrish said. “ I was up trying to drive people in with runners on second and third. The main thing was he (reliever Chase Dennison) gave me something to work with.”
Parrish was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth, ending his night 2-for-3 with a walk.
“It was part of our situational hitting,” said Sabres manager Stephen Nordan. “We talk to the guys about getting a ball thigh-high. Matthew got one, got it elevated and got it out of here. Then in the fourth, it was situational hitting with runners on second and third -- he hit the hole and got the runs in again.”
Benefitting from Parrish’s RBI hits were Jack Sherrill and Justin Carroll, scoring on both occasions. Sherrill singled in the first and waked in the fourth, while Carroll walked and doubled.
“They (Apex) has got a good solid team,” Parrish said. “Their pitcher are not that bad, either, We got the hits when we needed to, made the plays when we needed to and came up big for us.”
Apex opened the game aggressively, with their first three batters reaching base, and four of the first five Post 124 sent to the plate in building the 2-0 lead.
Luke Harvey reached on a infield hit to open the game, was doubled to third by Mike Sconza and scored on a single Brian Fortier. Sconza was erased when he was caught between third and home on the relay throw following a fly to center. Post 124 pushed its lead to 2-0 on a single by Alex Yarem that drove in Fortier. Harvey and Yarem enjoyed 2-for-3 nights for Apex, while Jordan Hockaday was 2-for-2.
But despite pounding out nine hits and drawing four walks, Post 124, which dipped to 2-12 overall and 1-7 in Area One play, couldn’t dent the scoreboard again, as it managed a paltry 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position afterward.
Part of Post 124’s inability to convert on it’s opportunities came from the variety of pitchers the Sabres sent to the mound.
Nordan utilized a trio of pitchers: starter Kesser Sorrell and relievers Cody Johnson (third inning) and Lane Johnson (fifth).
“With the big conference series (against fellow Area I unbeaten Garner up next), we were going to use a little bit of everybody,” Nordan said. “Throwing different arms and their guys not being able to see the same guy over and over helped us out a little bit. They just couldn’t get into a rhythm against us like they did in the first inning.”
The Sabres. who improved to 9-4 overall and 5-0 Area I could, however, and added a single marker in the fifth and three more in the sixth before the game was called. Adam Morrison tripled to lead off the fifth, scoring on a passed ball.