Chocowinity 12U upended in tournament opener

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

WILLIAMSTON — Chocowinity’s 12U all stars are mapping out new territory. They opened Little Tarheel League state-tournament play Thursday evening against a Shelby team out of the western part of the state.

Chocowinity played as the home team, and it felt like it, too. Its side was standing-room only. However, the energy couldn’t propel Chocowinity into the winner’s bracket as Shelby handled business in a 17-6 win.

Shelby wasted no time at all getting its offense rolling. A first-pitch solo home run led off the top of the first. Two passed balls with the bases loaded allowed the visitors to build a 3-0 lead in the opening frame.

Chocowinity proved it could hang when it got on on in the bottom of the stanza. With one swing of the bat, Trey Cherry cut the deficit down to one with a two-run shot.

Back-to-back hits — a line drive to first and a double to left-centerfield — gave Shelby its three-run advantage back in the second. Starting pitcher Sean Gerard issued two walks to load the bases, but got the third out at the plate to escape the jam with the game still well within reach.

The home all stars stormed out of the gate in the bottom of the second. They got two on with the last two in the batting order due up. C.J. Elks was hit by a pitch, and Lucas Cutler drew a walk. The freebies forced Shelby to make a pitching change, but the new hurler hit one-spot batter Omari Knight with the first pitch he threw.

Elks and Cutler scored on the combination of a fielder’s choice and error off of the bat of Gerard. He moved to second on the throw home to put himself in scoring position. Gerard then stole third, and was able to score on an error made when the Shelby catcher tried to gun him down.

It was the first time Chocowinity had tied the game, but Shelby met Chocowinity’s offense with some of its own. Its first seven batters reached safely helped produce three runs and an 8-5 lead halfway through the third. Shelby carried the momentum into the bottom of the inning by setting Chocowinity down in order.

Shelby continued to add onto its lead. Chocowinity wouldn’t muster any offense until it needed a run to keep the game going in the bottom of the fifth. The visitors owned a 15-5 lead after pouring on six runs in the top of the inning. Matt Bullock — who had taken over on the mound, too — led off with a sharp single to third base, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice from the bat of Jody Pierce. He stole second, setting himself up to score on an error.

The run cut Shelby’s lead to nine to avoid the mercy rule. However, with only five outs to work with, Chocowinity wouldn’t have enough left to even the game up.