Floor guys can't navigate Sharp curve
Nichirin needed a win versus winless Floorz-n-More Thursday afternoon to try to get back to .500 and stay in the Babe Ruth Western Conference race.
They got it in an 11-1 four inning run-rule victory.
Manager Tommy Primm sent the gritty Matt Sharp to the hill and the young righty responded, turning in a workmanlike effort in scorching temperatures at the Jonathon D. Hollingsworth Memorial Field.
The Chapel Hill guys have shown some grit of their own the last couple of weeks and had some opportunities to get to Sharp, who got big out after big out, mostly on his patented sharp breaking ball.
Sharp set the tone early, getting out of a bases loaded no-out jam in the first inning with all three outs coming via the hook, two on swinging strikeouts and the other on a slow roller to first base.
Nichirin got all the runs Sharp would need in the game in the home half of the first on two unearned runs.
Sharp and Dylan McKnight bounced back to back groundballs to the F&M second baseman, who mishandled both attempts, making it second and third with none down.
Cody Blackburn made them pay for their mistakes, slashing a line drive base hit to center that scored both runners, making it two-zip.
Sharp pitched a scoreless second, whiffing two more floor guys with his nasty curveball.
The floodgates opened in the bottom of the second when Rhye Stephens led off with a double to center field.
Chapel Hill pitcher Blake Crafton struck out the next batter and it should have been two outs as the third baseman booted an easy grounder by 12 year old Gunner Sutherlin, playing his first game since being brought up from Ronald's Cycle Shop in the Cal Ripken Major league Division.
A hit batsmen and another miscue by the F&M third sacker cost them two runs and Ashton Kelly's triple to deep center cost them two more as Nichirin opened up a 6-0 lead.
F&M did not quit, coming back to put up one run in the 3rd inning on an RBI single by Trevor Wellisley that scored R.J. Therrian, who had led off the frame with a base hit.
Nichirin put up a three spot in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double by Weston Neece and an RBI knock by Blackburn, who went 2-3 with three ribbies and a run scored.
Sharp set the Chapel Hill squad down 1-2-3 in the fourth and then watched as his teammates secured the run-rule win with two unearned runs in the bottom of the inning, finishing off the 11-1 triumph.
The Nichirin squad, who only won two games all of last season needs wins in their last two ballgames to secure the western conference title.
A happy Primm said after the win Thursday night, "Back to .500 again and I want to say I am proud of all my coaches this year, Justin McQueen, Brad Barnes, and Cody Primm. They are all ex-Tigers and they have made the difference."
Primm added, "They have brought a lot of experience to the dugout and there are why we went from two wins last year to five this year. Whenever one of the kids makes a mistake, one of them will take them off to the side and coach them. They don't yell or get mad and that is the kind of coaching these kids need at this age."