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Chargers win shootout

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Blake McLawhorn (#11) swings during a game a home game at Ayden Grifton High School on Wednesday evening.

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Brandon Benfield’s grand slam home run in the third inning against South Lenoir Wednesday night pushed Ayden-Grifton to a 15-10 win in a critical game in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference.

Trailing 5-4, the Chargers (11-5, 6-1) were looking to continue to keep their offense moving. Looking at a favorable 1-0 count, Benfield (1-2, two runs, four RBIs, two walks) blasted the pitch from South Lenoir pitcher Gavin Harrell over the left-center field fence, pushing A-G into the lead 8-4. The Chargers held the lead for the remainder of the game.

“I saw it and I just knew,” Benfield said. “I just crushed it.” 

Every starter notched runs for the Chargers. A-G was led by Kyle Cannon (1-1, 3 Rs, 2 BBs), Aaron Pasour and reigning Reflector All-County batter of the year Jackson Upchurch (1-4, 2 Rs). Connor Allen (4.1 IP, 3 Ks, 2 BBs, 5 hits, 5 runs) picked up the win for the Chargers from the hill.

A-G head coach Corey Skinner likened the game to recent practices and dealing with issues his squad has faced. 

“Unfortunately there’s a saying, ‘You practice like you play,’” Skinner said. “This is how we practiced the last two days, and we had to stop and basically start over. We said, ‘It’s not going well. Let’s stop and let’s start over,’ and I think that game was the same way. We looked up and it was 5-2 and I told them to stop, breathe and try to overcome the score.” 

After a six-run third inning, the Chargers came back and scored seven more runs in the fourth, taking a 15-5 advantage. They looked to hold the Blue Devils in the top of the fifth and force an early end to the game. South Lenoir had other plans, as Cole Price (1-2, R) crossed the plate to force the game to carry on. 

Jordan Atkinson brought the Blue Devils’ three-run seventh inning rally to a halt after he recorded the final strikeout after taking over the mound in relief.

A-G will play another important game, this time on the road against conference leader Washington, on Friday.

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

Greene Central 14, Kinston 2

The Rams (6-6, 4-4) dominated Kinston Wednesday night.

GC was led by Jalin Conner (2-3, 4 Rs, RBI, BB) and Debo Pigford (2-3, 2 Rs, RBI) at the plate.

GC will host North Lenoir tonight.

Washington 6, Greene Central 5 

A six-run fifth inning by Washington helped the Pam Pack fend off a late Greene Central rally to top the Rams Tuesday. 

Dylan Benton (1-for-2, 2 Rs, 2 BBs) led GC at the plate. Perry Tingen brought in a team-high three RBIs. 

SouthWest Edgecombe 4, North Pitt 2 

North Pitt dropped its third straight game Wednesday night. 

The Panthers (13-3, 2-3) will look to rebound tonight, when they face SW Edgecombe once again, this time in Bethel. 

SOFTBALL

South Lenoir 9, Ayden-Grifton 4 (8 inn.)

The Ayden-Grifton High School softball team's comeback fell short Wednesday night, as South Lenoir tallied five runs in the eighth inning to prevail.

The Chargers found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole, but singles from Taylor Bowen, Kylie Guthrie and Summer Little in the bottom of the second chased home Bowen to cut the deficit to 2-1.

A South Lenoir solo home run in the third, and a runner scoring from second on a SAC fly in the sixth increased the visitors' lead to 4-2.

Chargers' pitcher Kim Gurkins was hit in the knee by a shot back up the middle, but she remained in the game and went on to tie it in the bottom of the seventh on a two-RBI single with two outs.

“It was hurting,” Gurkins said about her knee after the game. “We were good at first. We kind of fell apart in the last inning. But I think we'll come back on Friday and do better.”

Chargers center fielder Kristen “Boo” Hardee turned in a 3-for-4 day with two singles and a double. She also flashed the glove in the outfield with three spectacular full-extension grabs.

“Anything that gets hit, I'm gonna try to catch it.” Hardee said. “We just gotta keep working as a team and not get too anxious at the plate.”

Gurkins, AG's go-to pitcher, is questionable for Friday's game at Washington. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.

“(South Lenoir) can hit the ball. If you ever open the door for a good hitting team then its hard to crawl your way out of it,” A-G head coach Gray Matthis said. “I haven't counted us out (of a game) all season. They play hard. I've never questioned that. It's still just doing the little things right.”

- Mitchell Thomas

South Central 11, Corinth Holders 1 

South Central dominated non-conference opponent Corinth Holders Wednesday. 

The Falcons were led by Anna Mewborn (3-5, 3 Rs) and Marissa Roach (2-4, 2 Rs, RBI). 

SC (14-1, 8-1) will host New Bern tonight. 

SOCCER 

Parrott Academy 9, St. David’s 0

Alex Melk continued her solid form on the season by knocking in four goals and picking up an assist in APA’s win over St. Davids on Tuesday. 

Megan Blair (2 goals, 2 assists), Annabelle Averette (goal, assist), Sophia Melk (goal) and Emily Sydes (goal) also got involved in the offense. Lindsey Thomas (2), Gisell Cervantes and Kelli Melvin all earned assists.

D.H. Conely 2, New Bern 0

D.H. Conley picked up a win Wendesday night after the Vikings picked up goals from Haven Best and Jenna Rupp. 

DHC (15-1, 9-0) will travel to face rival J.H. Rose tonight. 

TRACK AND FIELD

Conley boys, girls place 10th in Wilmington

D.H. Conley’s boys and girls track and field teams both placed 10th at the Screaming Eagle Invitational in Wilmington last week. 

The boys team, which finished with 37 points, was led by Peyton Walters (3200, 10:10) and Zack Tucker (800, 2:01) who both picked up wins.

The girls squad finished with 32 points. A'riana Crumpler was once again the top performer for Conley as she won the discus with a throw of 128-8 and finished second in the shot put with a throw of 32-6.

MIDDLE SCHOOLS

BASEBALL

E.B. Aycock 3, Hope 1 

The Mustangs fell to 6-3, 5-2 after a loss to Aycock on Monday. 

Tyler Sparrow, James Elpers, Conner Edwards, Josh Weidner and Collin West all picked up hits on the night. 

Hope will return to action tonight when it hosts A.G. Cox. 

SOCCER 

Hope 4, P.S. Jones 0 

Three Mustangs — Steven Cocolas, Henry Conway and Corbin Jefferson (2) — picked up goals in Hope’s win over P.S. Jones on Tuesday. 

Hope (8-2, 3-2) will travel to face E.B. Aycock tonight.

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