Marshall Medical hands Nichirin first loss
Unblemished and first place Nichirin led 2-0 through three innings in Monday night's nightcap at the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Memorial Babe Ruth Field before Marshall Medical Center stormed back to win 8-3, sending Nichirin into a tie for the top spot with the Farm Center of Chapel Hill, who defeated the Elks 17-7 in the first game.
Ethan Poteete led the way for the hospital crew, tossing a complete game for the win on the mound and at the dish, Poteete put up a 2-4 performance with two runs scored and two RBIs, including a huge bases loaded, two-strike, two-run single in the fifth inning that busted the game wide open.
Nichirin scored first on an RBI fielder's choice by Gunner Southerland in the second inning and tacked on another run in fourth on another ground ball RBI by Stuart Warner that scored Cameron Isley.
Warner looked to be in control on the hill for Nichirin as he cruised through the first three innings before MMC rallied in the bottom of the fourth.
Lane Whitesell got things going for MMC with a surprise leadoff bunt single and Poteete followed with an infield single.
A passed ball sent both runners up one base and Payton Hood, who came into the contest tied for third in batting average in the league made Nichirin pay when he sent both runners home with a single to right field, tying the contest at 2-2.
Warner retired the next two MMC batters on a strikeout and a grounder to shortstop, but a pair of passed balls sent Hood to third base.
Hood rumbled home on another passed ball to give MMC the lead at 3-2.
The only other time Nichirin had trailed the entire season was against MMC in their first meeting of the year in a game won by the hose makers 3-2 in extra innings.
Poteete held firm on the mound in the top of the fifth, setting up the game deciding bottom of the inning.
Three consecutive walks to Chase Hensley, Zach Gordon and Whitesell sent Warner to the showers and lefty David Looney to the mound for Nichirin.
Looney put Poteete into a two-strike deficit before he drilled a single in the hole between short and third that scored Hensley and Gordon, putting MMC up 5-2.
Hood followed with a one-bouncer over the fence in left that scored Whitesell, rattling Nichirin as Poteete scooted home on a passed ball and Hood followed his teammate to the dish on a wild pitch, making it an 8-2 ballgame.
In the top of the sixth, Jay Howard walked with one out, stole second, but was nailed trying to steal third on a great throw by Whitesell to Brandon Patterson, who applied the tag on Howard.
Poteete whiffed the next batter to end the frame and Looney retired MMC 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth.
Nichirin would not give up as Isley led off the seventh with a base hit and Warner followed with another base knock to put hose makers on the corners.
Conner Mealer kept hope alive for Nichirin with an RBI single that made it an 8-3 ballgame before Poteete retired the next three Nichirin batters to end the late night contest
Poteete gave up five hits and just two earned runs in the game, while striking out 11 and walking three Nichirin hitters.
Hood went 2-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored, Whitesell ended up 1-2 in the game, but walked twice and scored scored two runs, and Gordon had one hit in three at bats, walked once and scored a run.
Isley led the Nichirin offense with a 2-3 night (one run scored), Warner had one hit, one run scored and an RBI, Mealer scored once and drove home one, going 1-3 and driving in a teammate, while Looney scored the other run for Nichirin.
Nichirin (6-1) and the Farm Center of Chapel Hill (6-1) meet Thursday night in the battle for the top spot.
Nichirin won the first meeting 9-2 on May 31.