Prep baseball: Ledford splits with Hornets

Published 1:28 am Friday, March 30, 2018

By R. Scott Maddox

For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — On the first warm night of the season, Ledford senior Logan Whitaker managed to cool the Salisbury Hornets bats to a chill.

The Hornets mustered just one hit — a single to right by Chandler Lippard — and got only two more base runners the rest of the way in a 5-0 Central Carolina Conference loss to the Panthers.

Ledford coach Chris Adams knew after Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Hornets that the Panthers would have to bring their “A” game to split the series.

“Logan gave us what we expect out of him,” Adams said.  “He has been a starter for us since his sophomore year. He has pitched in some big games for us. When we hand him the ball we expect good things, and tonight he delivered what I think was his best game of the season against a quality team.”

Whitaker, who was mid- to-upper 80s with his fastball and mixed in a good off-speed pitch, struck out 13 Hornets  (10-3, 9-3)and issued only one hit by pitch and one base on balls, both to Bo Rusher.

“We came in here tonight  and tried to get back to what makes us our best and that’s moving runners, good defense and really just doing the basics the right way,” Adams said. “This was a big game and I felt our kids responded positively.”

Salisbury pitcher Joe Steinman wasn’t over-powering, but he was effective changing speeds and locating.

“I hit my spots and tried to throw strikes,” Steinman said. “They bunted a lot and were able to capitalize when they got runners in scoring position.”

“I thought Joe pitched well. The score could have easily been 1-0 or 1-1 if we catch a few breaks,” Salisbury coach Mike Herndon said.

There were two close calls on pickoffs early where if Panther runners would have been called out, it may have changed the complexion of the game.

But each close call resulted in Panther runs later in the inning.

The Hornets only   scoring threat was in the second when Rusher reached first on a hit by pitch and moved to third on Lippard’s single to right. With runners on first and third and the Panthers holding a 2-0 lead, the 6-foot-5 Whitaker beared down and struck out the Hornets 6-7-8 batters to escape the threat.

“We have to move the runners in that situation,” Herndon said.  “We didn’t do it and left a big run on third.”

The Hornets by virtue of their victory on Tuesday placed themselves in a situation where the Ledford game suddenly had major implications in the CCC.

“I told our guys that win was big but, but we can’t harp on it, “ Herndon said. “Tuesday is over with and it’s a new day. We have to come ready to play. I thought our guys took some good swings, but the little things hurt us tonight. They have a really good team, one of the best in the state. Tonight, we made a few mistakes and put ourselves in situations where they took advantage of it.”

The Hornets turn around and play today at 11 a.m. against Robinson in the  F&M Bank Classic in Kannapolis.