Patriots blow past Southwestern Randolph, slip by Eastern to open season
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
From start to finish, the first week of the baseball season was good to Southern Alamance.
The two home victories were far from ordinary for the Patriots.
The positive vibes formed right away, with outfielder Chase Moore, who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the preseason, on the field for Tuesday’s opener. That 12-2 romp past Southwestern Randolph included Moore’s production.
See earlier Sports Sunday feature on Moore’s battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: https://alamancenews.com/southern-baseball-player-deals-with-hodgkins-lymphoma/
Then came Saturday’s 5-4 non-conference escape against rival Eastern Alamance.
Moore’s presence in the lineup was the best way for the Patriots to start the season.
“They cleared me,” he said after Saturday’s game. “I’m happy to be back.”
Moore, a senior outfielder, will have 10 more chemotherapy treatments. Those are on an every-other Tuesday schedule, meaning he’ll likely miss a game or two early in those weeks.
Moore went 3-for-4 with a double against Southwestern Randolph.
“That was really uplifting,” he said. “I’m still there (contributing).”
On Saturday, senior Nathan Teague made an unexpected relief appearance to seal the outcome. He struck out the last two batters, and provided an energized reaction.
“That was the last time (against Eastern),” Teague said. “They beat us last year (in baseball). We lost to them at home in basketball the last time I played against them. I didn’t want that to be the last one. I’ll never play them again, so this is how to end it.”
Teague, an ace pitcher and Vanderbilt signee, threw four innings with seven strikeouts Tuesday. By the weekend, he needed a little work on the side and with a close game he suggested to coach Jason Smith that instead it come in the last inning.
“I wasn’t expecting to,” Teague said of the pitching role: “The situation presented itself.”
Smith said: “He came and said, ‘I got one inning,’ That worked out for us. He’s such a competitor.”
In the seventh, Teague fielded a slower roller for the first out before Cole McGinnis singled. The last two outs came on strikeouts.
Eastern (0-2) led 3-0 after the second inning. Southern responded with a few walks and a wild pitch aiding its cause in a four-run third. An Eastern error led to the Patriots extending the lead to 5-3 in the fourth.
“We lost a little focus, and it came back to bite us,” Eastern coach Caleb Robinson said.
Payton Wright’s run-scoring double in the sixth for the Eagles closed the gap to 5-4. In the bottom of the inning, Eastern reliever Zack Merchel worked out of trouble and left a runner stranded at third base.
Braxton Cain earned the victory in relief, working 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts.
Teague and Kris Young had the only two Southern hits. That pushed Young to four hits for the week and Teague to three hits.
But the offense was slow to develop against Eastern.
“We were so off with timing,” Smith said. “We’ve got to grow up and figure that out.”