Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Bulldogs nip Orange with late-inning defense, scoring


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Williams center fielder Aiden Pulliam made a diving catch in the top of the seventh inning to keep the score tied with Orange on Friday night.

“That was the play of the game and it brought us the momentum, and we carried it the rest of the way,” Williams coach Brent Haynes said.

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Orange never recorded an out in the bottom of the inning, with Dylan Brooks drawing a bases-loaded walk to end the game in the Bulldogs’ 5-4 victory to earn a split of Central 3-A Conference baseball meetings during the week.

“It’s a big bounce-back game,” Williams pitcher Tate Jones said of avenging a loss. “That gives us a lot of energy coming into next week.”

Tate Jones

Williams took a 4-3 lead on Dan Mahan’s two-out double in the sixth. The Panthers got even in the top of the inning when Cameron Guentensberger doubled and Ryan Honeycutt singled him home off Jones. The Panthers threatened for more off Trace Hicks before Pulliam’s defensive play.

Dan Mahan

“I got to go make a play,” Pulliam said. “I saw it and said, ‘I’m going to catch it.’”

Orange pitcher Coltin Hedrick never recorded an out in the bottom of the inning.

The Bulldogs have lost the first game of three of four conference series, but have recovered to win the rematches three times.

“It’s very stressful,” said Mahan, the catcher. “When Tate is on the mound, we just need to make the plays.”

Both teams had three-run spots in the first inning.  Williams scored Vince Coker’s single, Brooks’ run-scoring groundout, and Angel Mora’s single. Mora finished 3-for-3.

“We’ve been preaching all year: You absorb a punch and punch right back,” Haynes said.

Williams (11-4 overall, 4-4 Central 3-A Conference) stayed within range of first-place Orange (11-4, 4-2) amid crowded standings.

“Orange, they are the top dog,” Haynes said. “(Our players) are meshing. The pitching has been great. We lean heavily on pitching.”

Orange coach Jason Knapp, formerly in the same position at Williams, missed the game because of disciplinary action stemming from a game the previous against Cedar Ridge. Knapp coached earlier in the week when the Panthers defeated visiting Williams.

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