Owls top Gastonia, 10-3
On Monday, Owls manager Andrew Ciencin said that a rainout may rejuvenate his team.
Judging by Tuesday night’s performance, he was right. The Owls rapped out 11 hits and scored ten times as they beat the Gastonia Grizzlies 10-3 Tuesday night at McNair Field.
The big inning for the offense came in the third as the Owls sent 10 men to the plate, scoring seven runs, highlighted by Eric Cheray’s two run homer.
The offense also backed a stellar outing by Nick Neitzel who pitched 8 2/3 innings of one run baseball that snapped a four game losing streak.
“I found my curveball in about the third inning and hit a grove after that,” Neitzel said.
After a quiet first inning, the Owls (24-20) threatened in the bottom of the second. Conner Clancey and Devin Wenzel singled to lead off the inning, but Joey Hawkins popped a bunt into a 3-6 double play and Cheray struck out to end the inning.
The bats went to work again in the third against Gastonia starter Robert Lawhon. Three base hits and an error allowed Zach Cerbo and Maleeke Gibson to score. Two outs later with the bases loaded Hawkins redeemed himself with a bases clearing double down the right field line for a 5-0 Forest City lead. The Owls weren’t done, however, as Cheray hit a deep two run homer just to the right of the scoreboard for a seven run inning and a 7-0 lead.
The barrage continued in the fourth. Steven Pallares, Hunter Bryant, and Clancey each had RBI doubles in the frame to increase the lead to 10-0.
That offense was more than enough for Owls’ starter Neitzel who allowed only one hit through the first five innings of play. Neitzel’s dominance continued in the sixth as he sat Gastonia down in order to keep the tally at 1-0.
Forest City threatened to add more in the bottom half as Pallares and Danny Sheehan walked but reliever Sam Thole settled down and worked out of trouble with a strikeout and a flyout.
Neitzel remained sharp in the seventh and the eighth, retiring all six batters during that stretch to keep the one hitter intact. Zach Daily rolled a single up the middle and scored on a single by Weston Lawing to break up the shutout bid. Rob Thomas came in and gave up a pair of runs, but did put the finishing touches on the 10-3 win.
Ciencin hopes the win is a turning point for the Owls.
“Anytime you get a win this late in the season, it’s huge,” he said. “Neitzel pitched great and the offense put up big numbers. This team showed what they were capable of tonight and I hope it continues.”
Forest City returns to McNair Friday as they host Fayetteville.
Coastal Plain League baseball
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
at McNair Field, Forest City
Forest City 10, Gastonia 3
Gastonia: 000 000 003 3 4 1
Forest City: 007 300 00X 10 11 2
WP: N. Neitzel (4-3)
LP: R. Lawhon (3-3)