KANNAPOLIS — Baseball is a game of averages, so Salisbury should have some hits coming its way soon.
The Hornets picked up six hits here Monday afternoon against Robinson in the fifth-place game of the F&M Bank Classic, but ripped no less than seven other line drives that found their opponents’ glove.
In the end, Robinson pitcher Jason White hurled a complete-game as the Bulldogs defeated Salisbury, 6-2.
“We had some situations where we really barrelled some balls up and we didn’t have anything to show for it,” said Salisbury head coach Mike Herndon. “We smoked some balls today, but right at ’em. It was just one of those days … that’s baseball. The good thing is that we get to put the uniform back on tomorrow and go play again.”
Herndon was referring to a big Central Carolina Conference showdown with West Davidson today in Tyro. Salisbury (11-7) also plays the Green Dragons at home on Friday.
West Davidson leads the CCC at 6-0 in league games, one game ahead of Salisbury.
The important conference games is why Herndon did not use ace pitcher Griffin Myers during the weekend tournament at Intimidators Stadium.
“We knew coming in that we had West Davidson twice this week, so we didn’t throw Myers in this tournament,” said Herndon. “We still had a pretty good showing. Every game we played here, we had opportunities and I thought we did pretty good.”
Against Robinson, starting pitcher Chandler Lippard, normally the Hornets’ first baseman, struggled during his three innings but worked some magic to get out of jams, created by five hits allowed and four walks.
Lippard turned a 3-2 deficit over to relievers Bo Rusher, who pitched an inning, and sophomore lefty Jack Fisher, who finished the game on the mound.
Fisher inherited a one-out, runner on third base situation from Rusher in the fifth inning and kept the Bulldogs off the board with a strikeout and a pop-out.
But Salisbury went quietly in the bottom of the inning and the Bulldogs pushed across two unearned runs in the sixth inning when the Hornets’ defense suffered its only lapse, committing two errors.
“Jack came in and got out of a mess and we were right where we wanted to be,” said Herndon. “But for some reason, we didn’t go out that next inning with the same intensity. I was disappointed in our team’s mental toughness. We’ve been mentally tough all year but we let some things get to us today.”
Robinson also added a run in the seventh inning for insurance, on a two-out triple by Marshall Raper and a single by pinch-hitter Liam Porter.
Fisher was impressive in his two-plus innings of work, striking out five batters, including four in a row at one point.
“I got the strikeouts on fastballs, inside and outside, just working them,” said Fisher. “I actually didn’t feel like I had my best stuff. I started off good, but didn’t feel like I maintained it.”
The Bulldogs (12-7) jumped ahead, 2-0, in the top of the first inning on a groundout from Joe Tolone and a single from Andrew Tan.
Salisbury got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Myers doubled and took third base when the ball was bobbled in the outfield. Lippard followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
In the second inning, another Robinson error led to a scoring opportunity for Salisbury and the Hornets cashed it in when Jake Murphy drilled a single, scoring Will Taylor.
Salisbury didn’t score again, but it wasn’t like the bats went cold. White only struck out three batters but he stayed out of trouble by not walking anyone.
“Again, we had opportunities,” added Herndon. “We had (Blaine) Shellhorn on third with one out in the sixth and we hit two line drives right at them. And Lippard hit two balls, you can’t hit them any harder. Those balls were smoked, only about knee-high, all the way out to the center fielder. Just one of those days when things didn’t go our way.”
Myers and Shellhorn led Salisbury with two hits each and Hut Smith led off the bottom of the seventh with a blast to left field, hitting about a foot below the top of the wall. Smith settled for a double, but was stranded there.
Chase Orrock went 3-for-4 for Robinson. Tolone (double and triple) and Tan also had two hits each.
Robinson 201 002 1 — 6 11 3
Salisbury 110 000 0 — 2 6 3
WP — Jason White. LP — Chandler Lippard.
Leading hitters — Salisbury: Blaine Shellhorn 2-for-3, Griffin Myers 2-for-4 2B, Jake Murphy 1-for-3 RBI; Robinson: Chase Orrock 3-for-4, Joe Tolone 2-for-3 2B 3B, Jackson Aldridge 2-for-3, Andrew Tan 2-for-4.