FOUR OAKS — It was one of those pitcher’s duels that looked unbreakable until one mistake changed everything.
But one Corinth Holders error set up South Johnston for four unearned runs in the fifth inning, and the Trojans rolled to a 5-0 win that broke their four-game losing streak Friday night at soggy Bruce Coats Field.
The win over their county rivals improved the Trojans to 4-4, 1-1 in their first season in the new Two Rivers 3A Conference, while the Pirates – who were 2A last season – fell to 4-5 and 1-1.
Leadoff man Josh Stikeleather had three hits with an RBI for the Trojans, who finished with six hits including a double and a single from Nash Johnson.
“I wish I could tell you there was something we did different tonight,” said South coach Keith Durham, whose team is 5-0 all-time against the Pirates. “We just came together tonight. This was a great high school game – the Corinth Holders pitcher was outstanding and we got a big break.
“We got beat up last night when Sanderson came in and 10-runned us, so I was glad we were mentally ready to play.”
Oakley Wallrich had two hits for Corinth Holders, which committed two errors.
“I thought early on we pitched well,” first-year Pirate coach Adam Weaver said. “Jake Lewis did a good job. But we didn’t give him much help. We’ve got to get bunts down and hitting ground balls low and hard somewhere especially on a wet field.
“The bottom of the fifth, we made two errors with two outs. And against good ball games like South Johnston you can’t do that.”
Junior righthander Cody Allen (2-0) was the winner in his first career shutout, scattering six singles and striking out five against one walk.
“Tonight I came in feeling the best I have all year,” Allen said. “The fastball was working early and the breaking ball was good – that’s the first time all year the breaking ball has been good. I normally use my changeup a lot, but with the way the other two were working I didn’t need it much. This was my best outing of the season tonight. And my new catcher (Zack Bridges) was a big part of it.”
Pirate southpaw Lewis lasted 4 2/3 innings, retiring nine in a row at one point.
But the fifth inning was his undoing. With one out, he fielded Brett Clifton’s grounder and bounced it past first for a two-base error. Stikeleather followed with an RBI single to right and later scored on a wild pitch. Nash Johnson hit a two-out single to center, and after Drew Mustgrave drew a walk Joey Matthews hit a two-run double to right for the 4-0 lead.
“I felt like I was pretty good,” Lewis said. “Until the fifth inning came around when I was a little tired. I’ve just got to get more stamina up so I can be a little bit better. But I was staying fluid and wasn’t being jerky.
“(Allen) was fluid and was hitting his spots. He’s a good competitor.”
Stikeleather said he was happy about his three-hit game against a pretty solid pitcher.
“(Lewis) commanded really well and hit his spots,” Stikeleather said. “He wasn’t throwing anything that was good to hit. He got ahead in the count with his breaking ball.
“I was just happy we were able to break that losing streak.”