Apr 24, 2014
Anytime the Clayton Comets (12-3, 8-1) and Garner Trojans (11-7, 7-2) meet on the baseball diamond, a competitive game is expected. Unfortunately for the Trojans, an abundance of errors kept Thursday's meeting from being close.
The Comets scored six runs in the top of the third inning and recorded 12 hits in the game to pull ahead of Garner and put the game away in just six innings, cruising to a 12-2 mercy-rule win on the road.
Entering the night, both teams had identical conference records. The win gives Clayton sole possession of first place in the 4-A Greater Neuse River Conference standings.
The Trojans managed nine hits but committed six errors in the game. Garner head coach Derik Goffena said it was the program's worst game in years.
"When you're playing a good team and you give up five or six unearned runs in one inning, you know with a good pitcher on the mound--an established guy like [Sam] May--you're going to have a hard time making it up," Goffena said.
May allowed just two runs in five innings pitched to earn the win for Clayton while the Comets' Brandon Boykin retired three batters in the bottom of the sixth to close out the game.
Clayton scored two runs in the second inning before breaking the game open in the third with an onslaught of perpetual hits. After Marshall Creech was walked to begin the inning, Drew Boumenot and Cole Hinnant each singled. Hinnant's hit scored Creech.
Blake Joyner was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and a double from sophomore Brooks Verona scored two more runs. A throwing error to third base then scored Joyner and advanced Verona to third to make the score 6-0.
Sully Keele then hit an RBI-single to score Verona. Keele advanced to second on Corey Poole's base hit and an outfield error gave him time to take third. He tagged up and scored on a fly ball from Creech, bringing the score to an insurmountable 8-0 entering the bottom of the third.
"We compete every inning, every pitch, ever at-bat and every defensive play," said Clayton head coach Stacey Houser. "When you compete all the time it stresses people because they know you're going to keep coming."
Garner loaded the third-inning bases in response and Kameron Harris scored a run to put the Trojans on the board.
Another Trojan error proved costly in the top of the fifth when Brandon Peake swung for the outfield and the ball was bobbled, bringing Peake to third base and scoring Keele. Creech immediately hit an RBI-single to score Peake and the score was 10-1.
The Trojans continued to fight in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases once again and allowing Saylon Kieft to tag up and score, but Clayton added two runs in the top of the sixth from Verona and Blake Joyner to put the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
Kieft was the starting pitcher for Garner. He was pulled midway through the Clayton third-inning rally.
"He's a good ball player… he just didn't have his great stuff tonight and we punished it," said Clayton senior Brett Clark.
Garner has four games left to play in the regular season and Clayton has five. Both teams will be back in action Tuesday, with Clayton hosting Rolesville and Garner playing at Harnett Central.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT